Depressed by another rainy weekend in the country cabin, a shaggy-haired, bespectacled, white child wallows on the sofa, numbing malaise with a hand-held video game.
Mom finally turns the kid out-of-doors, but the gaming device is stealthily pocketed on the way. The narrator (whose gender remains ambiguous) holds the game “tightly,” hoping “it would protect me from this boring, wet place.” A stumble launches it into icy waters and the child into the forest without technological armor. Marvelously murky illustrations transmit the myriad textures, shapes, and density of the natural world under a mist of rain. Linear and circular forms abut one another, edging and overlapping, placing readers amid smooth stones, coned mushroom caps, button-y buds, and round leaves as well as driving rain, spiky branches, and prickly pine needles. The child’s phosphorescent blaze orange coat glows amid the mossy greens of the forest. Alemagna’s captivating artwork magnifies the forest’s magic, while her language, via Davis’ translation, offers an authentic pre-adolescent voice (“This COULD NOT be happening to me!”) that’s eventually left almost breathless by nature: “I felt a sense there was something special close by. That I was surrounded.” The child’s ultimate decision to keep her outdoor awakening private once home will resonate with young people just making their own discoveries and finding them precious.
An effective argument for unplugged exploration, submitted through startlingly beautiful words and pictures. (Picture book. 6-12)