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Into the Forest Hardcover – September 9, 2004
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3–After a stormy night, a boy awakens to find his father gone. The child misses him terribly, though the specifics of his whereabouts are unstated. When the boy's mother asks him to take a basket to Grandma, who is not feeling well, she warns him not to take the shortcut through the forest. Worried that he might not be home when Dad returns, the child disobeys. Starkly illustrated in black and white, with color used to highlight the boy, this forest is quite ominous. The trees are full of spikes as he enters, and gnarled with faces that loom over him on ensuing pages. The boy encounters a variety of recognizable, if a bit mean, fairy-tale characters–Jack trying to sell his cow, Hansel and Gretel, and a selfish Goldilocks. He even finds a red coat, completing his transformation as Red Riding Hood. Recalling a story his grandmother told him about a bad wolf, the boy is terrified to open her door. Yet in a surprisingly reassuring twist, he finds his comforting Grandma, who's feeling better, and also his dad. Browne's text is deceptively short, leaving much room for interpretation. As usual, his hyperrealistic, pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are full of rich details. Each child may take something different from this psychological picture book, but the reassuring ending is especially comforting. It is possible to go into the forest of dreams/the imagination and emerge even stronger.–Robin L. Gibson, formerly at Perry County District Library, New Lexington, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 3-5. In this picture book for older children, Browne's beautiful surreal imagery reveals a child's terror in ordinary life. A young boy wakes up one morning to find that Dad is gone. There is emptiness everywhere. When sad Mom asks the boy to take a cake to Grandma, he chooses the forbidden path, and he is lost in the wood. The clear pencil pictures of the forest, with only the boy in bright watercolors, show bare, shadowy trees full of frightening spikes, gaping holes, and branches like thick tentacles. As his journey progresses, the boy encounters contemporary kids in elemental fairy-tale roles-- among them, Red Riding Hood and a bespectacled brother and his sobbing sister who have been abandoned by their parents. Finally, the boy knocks on the door of Grandma's cottage--and finds Dad inside. As with most fairy tales, there's a huge turnaround at the close--a happy return home, presented in glowing color. The power of the story is in the fearful detail that reveals the child's nightmare of being forsaken. Readers older than the elementary-school audience may want to talk about the story's connection to timeless fairy tales such as "Hansel and Gretel" as well as its psychological underpinnings. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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This is a book you could read over and over, and that a child will pick up on her own to look at the pictures, because there are many details to pick up. Shadows are not what they seem (the one on the cover is a bunny rabbit) and on the Hansel and Gretel page, the shadow turns out to be Browne's kindly gorilla from earlier books. There are creatures in the trees, symbols of other fairy tales all around if you look carefully for them. There's even a one-legged tin soldier on the first page. Grandma's house has kitty ears.
This is a beautifully drawn and told story about confronting anxiety and worry. So many times children worry about what is going on in their grown-ups' lives, and they don't understand what is real and what isn't, and many times Mommy and Daddy are so worried themselves -- over a health crisis with an elderly parent, for instance -- that they don't take time to explain.
This book explains and puts it all into surreal fantastical perspective. I love picture books that work for both adults and children, and this one does wonderfully.
Despite the rather dark overtones at the beginning of the story (the boy in the story wonders why his father is missing and then goes on a trek through the woods to get to his sick grandma's house, something his mother specifically cautions him against), the story does lighten up eventually with a neat surprise at the end. The illustrations contain references to popular fairy tales, and part of the fun is trying to look for hidden objects and references to fairy tales scattered throughout the book and found hidden amongst the illustrations, e.g. Rapunzel's tower, the big bad wolf, etc. I think children under 5 might find this book a bit over their heads, and perhaps even scary, but older children might be able to appreciate the other aspects of the book, and might facilitate a discussion on fears and anxieties.