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Monday, December 1, 2014

Hunters of the Great Forest, by Dennis Nolan. A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2014. $20.50 ages 3 and up

"A band of hunters.

A worthy expedition.

The travel is dangerous.

The goal is worth it!"

I pored over this book, time and time again. I wanted to take note of every action, every tiny hunter and to laugh out loud at their search for food. They set out with determination and bravery to conquer the perils that stand in their path.

I have said it many times; you do not need words to tell a terrific tale! Dennis Nolan proves that, yet again! His small troop of seven collect what they must think they will need before we even turn from the title page: a backpack, a spear, a walking stick, a bedroll, a flashlight, a map and a magnifying glass. They say their goodbyes to family and friends and set off gingerly. Over hills, past large rocks, and into the barren wilderness. It isn't long until the reader realizes that these are very tiny people. It is evidenced when snails, trees, and mushrooms dwarf them.

Their supplies at the ready, the crew is always on the lookout. Surprised and frightened by a dragonfly, a toad, a mother bird, and a noisy chipmunk, they press forward. Finally, they find safety in a dark cave. Their shadows lengthen in the dark, and they do their best to step quietly. A warm light entices them to the mouth of the cave, where they find a young girl roasting a marshmallow. The bag lies open. It's a big job to go back with their cumbersome load, and while being pursued by hungry ants. No matter...on they go!

Their arrival home, and the food they were able to acquire makes for one very special feast for all!

Dennis Nolan used pen and ink, watercolor and 'a touch of colored pencils' on watercolor board to bring us his marvelous story. You will love the characters he has created with such precise detail. Observant children will understand why the final image of ants marching off with treasure untold is so relevant. The hunters may have been scared, but they did the job they set out to do. Bravo!


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