A Walk in the Forest

A Walk in the Forest
Maria Dek
Princeton Architectural Press
In the forest, wonders await’. Thus begins what feels like a truly heartfelt advocacy of the joys to be discovered by taking up the author’s invitation to leave behind the civilised world and join the child narrator in an exploration of a magical place. What actually happens is that readers, immediately engaged, find themselves standing behind the boy’s head, or even in his shoes, as he becomes ensphered by the greens and browns of a jungly canopy; drags a stick behind him, chases dragonflies and goes down on his knees to observe some things he’s found (vignettes show these); runs wild amid brightly coloured birds and tree-coiling snakes.

Then gives full throttle to his vocal chords: and who can ignore the pull to ‘Follow footprints. See where they lead you.’ and even more important, ‘Look! Find treasure.’ Here Dek focuses our attention on the textures and shapes of those treasures – flowers, feathers, fir cones, stones and the tail of a lizard.

The contrasts are stark: ‘All is small in the forest. All is big. And deep.’ Who can resist the unspoken invitation to shed footwear and ‘Wade in’ feeling the cool of the pond and the tickle of those water plants and fishes?
Secrets surround: birds have them; trees have them – if you listen; and patience might result in an encounter with a fox
and perhaps one of the many forest burrowing animals that tend to keep themselves out of sight.
A treasure of a book; and with its constantly shifting perspectives …

an eloquent, visual and verbal evocation of nature: especially, it’s one to visit whenever you’re feeling a bit down. It will surely help lift your spirits and after re-reading, send you out in search of a wooded place where further joys await.
Dek’s watercolours do the flora and fauna of the natural world proud with her lush scenes and surprise, sometimes stunningly stark, discoveries.

Like those of Frost, her ‘woods are lovely, dark and deep’. But I too have promises to keep and so reluctantly, must leave the meditational peace and tranquillity of this debut children’s book creator’s verdant world and just say, you need this picture book gem; everybody does.

I’e signed the charter 

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