Marie Dorléans (translated by Alyson Waters)
New York Review Children’s Collection
Not so much a fort, rather a den, is how I’d describe the ultimate destination of the three children who celebrate the arrival of spring with a visit to their camp.
The story is really more about their journey than the construction they sally forth to find. Their walk takes them past sheep in a field and through billowing grass fields that almost engulf them. After a pause to share some cookies, the sky darkens and a wind storm blows up
and the three – full of ideas about potential adventures – have to fight their way forwards until the storm eventually blows itself out. With concerns about the fate of their fort after such a violent wind, on they go to their haven, which happily has withstood the onslaught and is ready and waiting for their arrival.
As we readers follow the children out through their front door, we too feel immersed in the countryside.
It’s as though we’re also making our way onwards and upwards in Marie Dorléans’ delicately worked, realistic rural scenes of her beautifully observed celebration of children’s ability to observe with all their senses and to find delight in the natural world around them, storms and all. Oh the joy of childhood’s freedom in a rural environment – a joy many adults rediscovered during the covid lockdowns of the past couple of years.