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FOREST BABY by Laurie Elmquist


by Laurie Elmquist ; illustrated by Shantala Robinson

Pub Date: March 20th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4598-1333-5
Publisher: Orca

A mom takes her toddler, bundled into a baby backpack, on a walk through the woods.

The text, though lyrical, lacks immediacy. Written in a second-person present tense, it nevertheless comes across as relating what has been seen rather than what is being seen right then. Robinson depicts the pair, changing perspective with each page in a way that is artful but also disorienting to a toddler audience. The pair “reach to leafy maples with winged seeds” and “bend to a painted turtle stretching in the sun.” Another illustration shows the baby’s chubby fingers disturbing a school of minnows. (Exactly how this is accomplished from the confines of a baby backpack is unclear.) When Elmquist describes a dragonfly as a “jewel of blue and green,” both the perspective and palette change, with the dragonfly shown large and mother and baby smaller on a distant path. The woods disappear completely on the second-to-last spread when baby is shown flying in mama’s hands against a bright blue sky alongside 11 (count them) orange butterflies. The pairs’ ethnicities are undefined. The smiling, alert child in a bright yellow shirt and purple knit hat has light skin, while mama is a pony-tailed brunette with slightly darker skin. What is clear is that they are both enjoying a magical encounter with nature.

A vicarious walk in the woods probably best suited to those with direct experience of a forest hike.

(Board book. 1-3)