Where the World Ends

Where the World Ends
Davide Cali and Maria Dek
Princeton Architectural Press

With nothing better to do on a sultry summer’s day but lie around watching and discussing the clouds, why not go on a quest to discover where the world ends. That’s just what three friends Zip, Trik and Flip decide to do in this quirky story, having first packed plenty of peanuts and other essential items such as skis, binoculars, pencils and paper.

En route they stop several times asking for directions and receive a number of less than helpful answers -“Why would you want to go there?”

… “not here for sure”, “You can’t … nobody has ever been there. I forbid you to cross here!” … “at the peak of a nearby mountain” for instance. One more considerate boatman does take them across a lake though, and others are a tad more obliging in their comments.

On trudge the three, meandering, like Cali’s narrative, hither and thither, over hill and down dale,

up mountains and down, through a forest until finally driven by the logic of children at play they find that which they seek …

It’s only by turning to the final endpapers that we see a child-like map of the route the friends have taken.
Yes, the ending is somewhat strange and some may not find it satisfying, although the adventurers certainly did.

Executed in watercolours, Maria Dek’s sunny scenes are delightfully whimsical making every one a place to pause and enjoy its inventiveness.

Good Morning, Neighbour

Good Morning, Neighbour
Davide Cali and Maria Dek
Princeton Architectural Press

It all begins when Mouse decides to make an omelette, the problem being he lacks an egg. Mouse asks his neighbour Blackbird.

Blackbird doesn’t have one but offers flour and the suggestion they make a cake. They both call on Dormouse but instead of an egg, Dormouse provides butter for the cake and suggests they find Mole who has sugar – still no egg however.

Could Hedgehog oblige perhaps. The animals roll up at his home and ask.

No luck; and so it continues as the group adds fruit, cinnamon (for flavour) and raisins to their list of ingredients but as yet not that elusive egg.

Thank goodness then for Bat.

The culinary activities begin with all the animals doing their bit.

Now who can offer the use of an oven? Owl obliges and the cake is duly ready to eat.

“How many slices should I cut?” asks Owl. All who contributed an ingredient must surely get a piece but what about Mouse. Surely he won’t be left out; or will he?

Young listeners and readers will delightedly join in with the growing list of animals as well as the “Good morning, neighbour,” refrain.

Davide Cali’s tale of collaborative endeavour is illustrated in rather charming folk-art style watercolour illustrations that embody the feeling of camaraderie that exists among the forest animals and in the end the ingredients of warmth, friendship and teamwork that contribute towards its making are as important as the edible ones that go into the cake.

A tasty tale and a great lesson in co-operation and sharing that provides plenty of food for thought.

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