Amy Ludwig Vanderwater
Illustrated by Robbin Gourley
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 and up
Clarion, 2013, 978-0-618-84349-7
Not far from a girl’s little red house there is a forest. One morning, while she is outside, the girl hears a “pinecone fall” and she smells the “spicy” tang of the pine trees on the wind. She is drawn to the forest that seems to be asking her to “Come visit. / Please?”
In the forest she meets a chickadee, whom she invites to come and eat some of seeds that she is holding. She tells the little bird that it is “safe to land” on her hand and that she is not a threat. The bird is afraid of the child, but at the same time it cannot help seeing the seeds that rest in the hand that is still. Perhaps such a small child is not something to fear after all.
In the spring the child finds fiddleheads in the forest. These are ferns that are uncurling as the weather warms, and their presence indicates that winter is finally over. High in a tree she hears a tree fog calling. It is trying to convince a potential wife that it is “one great frog.”
Summer is the perfect time to have adventures in the forest. Barefoot, the girl walks on a bed of moss, her feet sinking into the “velvet green.” She wishes her socks felt as good as the moss does. Summer is also the time when poison ivy grows everywhere. One must look for those three leaves and avoid them because “One green / touch can itch / so much.”
In fall the maple trees begin to change their “leaves to red,” and one hears the call of geese overhead. Then the first snow arrives and the girl stands outside in the woods with her eyes closed listening to “snowy voices / crystal clear.”
This lovely book takes readers through a forest year. We celebrate special moments with the girl, and explore the lovely world that is her refuge and her playground. We discover treasures from nature, and meet animals who share their lives with us.
Throughout the book beautiful poems in a variety of forms are paired with emotive watercolor paintings that readers will enjoy reading and looking at again and again.