Anthony Browne is one of the most popular and stylistically distinctive children's book artists, with a number of outstanding titles to his credit including "Gorilla" and "The Tunnel." In 2000, he won the illustration section of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award for his services to children's literature. He lives with his family in Kent.
K-Gr 3-After a stormy night, a boy awakens to find his father gone. The child misses him terribly, though the specifics of his whereabouts are unstated. When the boy's mother asks him to take a basket to Grandma, who is not feeling well, she warns him not to take the shortcut through the forest. Worried that he might not be home when Dad returns, the child disobeys. Starkly illustrated in black and white, with color used to highlight the boy, this forest is quite ominous. The trees are full of spikes as he enters, and gnarled with faces that loom over him on ensuing pages. The boy encounters a variety of recognizable, if a bit mean, fairy-tale characters-Jack trying to sell his cow, Hansel and Gretel, and a selfish Goldilocks. He even finds a red coat, completing his transformation as Red Riding Hood. Recalling a story his grandmother told him about a bad wolf, the boy is terrified to open her door. Yet in a surprisingly reassuring twist, he finds his comforting Grandma, who's feeling better, and also his dad. Browne's text is deceptively short, leaving much room for interpretation. As usual, his hyperrealistic, pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are full of rich details. Each child may take something different from this psychological picture book, but the reassuring ending is especially comforting. It is possible to go into the forest of dreams/the imagination and emerge even stronger.-Robin L. Gibson, formerly at Perry County District Library, New Lexington, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
An extraordinary book tacking painful emotion... A tonic, even for children with reason to be insecure." The Observer; "Seems likely to be counted as one of [Anthony Browne's] most significant works." The Children's Bookseller"
The tenor of Browne's (The Shape Game; My Dad) latest multifaceted tale moves purposefully and effectively from foreboding to reassuring. Browne builds an aura of uneasiness from the first scene, in which a boy awakens in the night to "a terrible sound" and lightening flashing outside his window; a one-legged toy soldier stands by his bed. At the seemingly vast breakfast table, he discovers that his father is not at home ("I asked Mom when he was coming back, but she didn't seem to know"). The next day, Mom asks him to take a cake to his sick Grandma and he cuts through the forbidden forest, since he wants to get home quickly in case his father returns. Browne pictures the ominous forest in deep brown and white tones; only the basket-toting boy (who finds a hooded red coat hanging from a tree just as he grows cold) appears in color. Increasingly anxious, he encounters four children (whom experienced readers will recognize from fairytales)-two of whom have missing parents. The finale resolves all of the hero's worries, however, and restores the boy, Grandma and his own missing parent to a vibrant palette. Characteristically, Browne uses color, light and shadow in his pencil and watercolor artwork to dramatic effect, and incorporates copious particulars that readers may miss on the first pass (the forest hides many surprises). Adults caring for youngsters coping with anxiety may find that walking them through this protean story is quite therapeutic. Ages 5-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.