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Monday, June 5, 2017

A Walk in the Forest, by Maria Dek. Princeton Architectural Digest. Raincoast. 2017. $24.95 ages 3 and up

"Run wild in the jungle!

In the forest,
you can shout as loud
as you want.

Follow footprints.
See where they lead you.
Find treasure."

As the young boy approaches the forest from the left of the opening spread that is mostly white space, does he have an inkling for what he will find should he explore it? I wonder. It doesn't take long until he is eagerly peering around a tree trunk at the vast array of growth before him.

There is much to discover in this new 'forest' playground, and he makes the best of it. Encouraged to 'run wild', he is surrounded by the beauty of the trees, the vines, the flowers and the many creatures who make their homes there. Shouting may occasion birds to take flight, but he need not worry about the noise he makes. Everywhere he looks there are footprints to follow. Go ahead, explore! is the invitation at every turn.

The beautifully rich illustrations were created with watercolors the artist applied using a brush. The work is careful, and encourages quiet contemplation of all the forest has to offer. She surprises her audience with variety in perspective, encouraging them to step back at times, to look from above and even to zoom in to capture careful detail at others. It is a book filled with 'treasures', a sense of joy and wonder, engaging its readers at every turn while continually fostering a child's need for outdoor exploration.

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