A walk in the woods, with choose-your-own routes.
Mother Forest, a pink-skinned figure with red cheeks and straight black hair, invites readers to choose one of two paths through her domain, inviting herself along to comment chattily about forest sights. Each option offers encounters with (Eurocentric) wildlife, from families of foxes and badgers to a green woodpecker and a wild boar, and each brings wanderers safely home at the end. As choose-your-owns go, this is a rudimentary example. The narrative often offers just one option to take, and since all of the page flipping is forward, never back (aside from invitations to start over at the end and, once, partway through), the possible itineraries are short ones. Moreover, a supposedly complete map at the end confusingly leaves out several connecting pathways. Still, with a broad, brown path winding through to trace with a finger, Brocoli’s painted scenes of stylized wildlife in woodsy settings look bright and busy without sacrificing an idyllic air. And, to expedite page flipping, the numbered stops are flagged by leaf-shaped protruding tabs that run in a colorful, irregular row down the right edge.
Young audiences eager to strike out on their own, but not too far, will enjoy the sylvan stroll’s limited interactivity. (Picture book. 4-6)