One risk of raising bookish children: You create little shut-ins. No matter how blue the sky, how warm the day, how the susurrations of leafy trees beckon, they want to stay in the dark, cool house and read. I should know. I was one. “Put that down and go outside,” I often heard, along with a lot of importuning about the benefits of fresh air.
Four new picture books bring the outside in, taking young readers on adventures in illustrated forests. Strange, inscrutable creatures live there. These are unruly tales that conjure mystery and a little fear, bringing the wildness of nature to the cozy couch.
The sensory pleasures of the woods are on display in “A Walk in the Forest,” a quietly beautiful book written and illustrated by Maria Dek. Simple prose describes the “wonders” and freedom that await among the trees: The chance to “find treasure,” “follow footprints” and “shout as loud as you want.” Dek’s illustrations are warmly colored and full of movement — birds wheeling in a sun-dappled canopy; another flock flushed to the sky (possibly by that loud shouting); the hind quarters of a deer leaping out of the frame. Shifts in perspective abound. One spread shows a wooded pond from the viewpoint of a bird above. The next shows ticklish pond weeds and a blissful pair of submerged feet. These clever visual leaps show how small and how big the forest can feel, and how many different places the forest can be.
for Julia Turner’s other recommendations: New Children’s Books Explore the World in the Woods – The New York Times.