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The Forest Hardcover – May 3, 2002

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"I had always been afraid of the forest, that dark and unknown place at the farthest edge of my little world," begins Nivola's (Elisabeth) tale of a mouse who faces down his fear. The opening image, framed in a border of white, shows a charming town of red-tiled stucco houses in a valley under blue skies; a long, winding road connects the town to an expanse of trees at the top of the picture. The author underscores the seductive pull of the forest with emotionally sophisticated description: "At night I often dreamed of it and woke chilled with fear.... One night the fear pressed so heavily on me that I could bear it no longer." The next morning, the mouse takes a last look at his cozy abode smooth-lined, awash in warm colors and safely nestled in the tidy village before setting out. Horizontal framed images of the fellow moving farther from his home, the skies growing overcast, parallel the mouse's internal journey. Nivola's forest scenes are pointillistic, creating an overwhelming world of copious foliage. Dwarfed by the enormous trees and frightened by a moving shadow, the hero panics, trips and falls to the forest floor. But he opens his eyes to discover a soft bed of moss, a butterfly ("like a guardian angel") and sunlight "raining down through the leaves and warming my back." The mouse's bravery in tackling the unknown is heroic and will likely inspire other small heroes to conquer forests of their own. Ages 3-6.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

K Up-A little mouse lives safely and comfortably in his cozy house in his familiar village, but he is haunted by his fear of the forest-"that dark and unknown place at the farthest edge of my little world." One day, realizing that this fear has become so intense that he has no choice but to confront it, he leaves hearth and home and enters the forest. Frightened by a shadow, he runs, trips and falls, and lies still on the ground hoping to avoid discovery. As he lies there, he slowly becomes aware of the beauty and sweetness surrounding him-moss as soft as feathers, sunlight raining down, a butterfly hovering nearby "like a guardian angel." When he turns over and looks up, he realizes that "The sky was bigger than the forest, bigger even than my fear had been, bigger than everything." He is finally able to begin his journey home with "the sweet murmuring world of the forest filling me." Nivola has produced a true gem. The writing is poetic, graceful, and remarkably evocative, accessible to young children yet appealing to sophisticated readers. The theme of reluctance coupled with the imperative to go "there and back again" is universal, making this truly a book for all ages. Nivola's gently colored pointillistic illustrations blend the imaginary into an otherwise realistic natural world. This is a piece of picture-book perfection that most libraries will want to own.
Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 6 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 1
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (May 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374324522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374324520
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,033,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Terrie on September 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful picture book with charming, expressive illustrations filled with details. It tells the tale of a little mouse whose village is at the edge of a great forest. He is very frightened of the forest and imagines that all kinds of dangers are concealed there. One night he gets tired of being afraid and faces his fear and discovers great beauty. This story is told in the first person and uses some words that might be difficult for little ones like looming, devoured, murmuring, headlong, pillars (to describe trees). However, using uncommon words helps to expand a young one's vocabulary so that in itself is not really a problem just an observation. I think what might make this book unappealing to little ones is that it takes place deep within the mouse. He reflects on his fears in a mature way, decides to deal with those fears, goes off to the forest alone still grappling with the fears, the fear reaches a crescendo then in the majesty of the forest he contemplates his place in the Universe and finds tranquility. The text is poetical and I was moved by this peacefully thoughtful book but I think the concepts are too much on the inner plane to interest a child. This would actually make a great gift for a teen going off to college or moving away for the first time, or for a friend embarking on a new career, but it's too deep for little children to enjoy on their own. A parent will really have to explain and dialogue a lot about this book and in that case they might as well dialogue in their own words about facing fears and then choose a fun story for their children.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By kennedy19 on July 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
There are really very few picture books each year that are truly wonderful, but I think this is one of them. "The Forest" is in many ways a subtle and quiet book, but its simple plot is one that kids can easily relate to. Told in a first-person narrative, the book tells of a mouse living in a little town who is afraid of the forest. One day he decides to face his fear, and so leaving the cosy home and town, he ventures towards the looming woods. When at last he enters them, he is scared stiff but soon realizes that he really had little to fear except fear itself. The message is thus a very positive one about facing our imaginary fears. Adults as well as children will appreciate the beautiful, detailed, moody paintings that illustrate the story; they show just enough menace to make mouse's fears seem real, but not so much that they are actually scary. The pacing of the story is excellent. Simply put, this book does everything it sets out to do very well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on March 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In a short preface to this book, the author quotes Tolstoy's Prince Andrea who has fallen in battle and "looked up to see the `lofty, equitable, and kindly sky' and understood so much." This is from "War and Peace," a work which has absolutely nothing to do with this book other than the fact that this short sentence does address fear and it happens to be one of my favorite sequences in the entire work, i.e. War and Peace.

This wonderful little story is indeed all about fear and facing your fears. We have a little mouse that lives in a little village who has always been afraid of the forest, "that dark and unknown place at the farthest edge of my little world;" so says the mouse. His fear pressed so heavily on him that he simply could no longer bear it. One morning the little mouse gets up out of bed and begins his journey to the forest outside his comfortable little village and comfortable little home and life.

This little story is told in the first person (or should I say, first mouse) as it is through the voice, thoughts, observations and telling of the young mouse that we receive this mellow tale. The prose is quite simple, the message, for some will be quite apparent and it is a pure delight to read the words of Claire A. Nivola; she is indeed an excellent writer.

This is only half of the charm of this work tough because then we have the art work! Oh my! Picture books come and go in this genre but some of them last and last and this one is bound to be one of those that will be with us for years to come. The artist, Ms Nivola, uses a rather mixed technique of both simplicity and detail that is exciting to the eye, yet at the same time has a definite calming effect.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on November 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"I had always been afraid of the forest, that dark and unknown place at the farthest edge of my little world..." So begins Claire Nivola's eloquent little story of a mouse who conquers his fear, leaves the safety of his home and village, and discovers the wonders of the beautiful world around him. Mouse bravely sets out one morning on the adventure of a lifetime, walking down the country road on his long journey to the forest. "I stepped inside the forest, between two pillar trees that stood like a gateway." His heart pounded, and the unfamiliar sounds terrified him. Running for cover, the little mouse tripped and fell. "When I opened my eyes, my nose was deep in moss, a forest of tiny trees, as soft as feathers. The sunlight was raining down through the leaves and warming my back. A sweet breeze stirred my fur." The forest wasn't really frightening, just new and unknown..... Ms Nivola's engaging text is joyous and lyrical, and complemented by her elegant and detailed illustrations. Together word and art paint a captivating portrait that's heartwarming, gentle, and reassuring. Perfect for cuddling up and reading aloud, The Forest makes a soothing and cozy bedtime story that's just right for youngsters 3-7. "I listened. All around me a million leaves whispered and rustled gently. I rolled over and, for the first time, looked up. High above, I saw the sky. The sky was bigger than the forest, bigger even than my fear had been, bigger than everything. I lay there-a speck in this enormous beauty-until the light began to fade..."
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