Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What forest knows by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by August Hall

I've loved Lyon's other beautifully poetic picture books, and this seasonal title would be a perfect fit for my library, but I have one quibble that makes me hesitate.

Starting with the endpapers, which feature a stark winter landscape, shadowed by a few trees with a squirrel and rabbit in the foreground, the story begins with a forest in winter. The reader catches brief glimpses of a child and dog exploring the winter landscape. Slowly winter fades "Forest knows buds - soft life pushing through hard wood" and spring and the birds arrive. Animals begin to appear and light and green cover everything, but summer is all too brief. Fall arrives and the animals begin to return to their dens, leaves fall and finally winter arrives again.

I love the poetic language, which is brief and lovely. In general, I like the pictures, but the second to last spread, which slaps a close-up of the dog's face across the whole book is just...jarring. It doesn't fit in at all with the restrained, natural feel of the rest of the story and art. Some of the collage items interposed across the other pictures felt odd too, but I could see them fitting in with the art upon repeated perusals. I just can't take the cartoony dog's face. Or creepy, depending upon how you feel about staring black eyes.

Verdict: I'd love to have this for the beautiful seasonal poetry and the art on the whole, but I will probably pass as there are a lot of season books out there and that weird page just messes it up for me. If I was going to use it in storytime, I'd just skip that page probably.

ISBN: 9781442467750; Published 2015 by Simon and Schuster; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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