A pale-skinned child crosses a blank, white page into a screen of trees, where “wonders await.”
Readers entering this book’s varied landscape encounter similarly wondrous pictures and words. They stand in the child’s shoes, enveloped by forest under a lush canopy of green leaves, looking skyward at brilliant birds darting from limb to limb. Verdant watercolor illustrations describe both the density and individuality of the myriad botanicals entwined in woods: fronds, leaves, branches, twigs, stems, grasses, and blossoms. Gentle imperative urgings pull readers into a lush, wooded embrace (“Run wild in the jungle!”; “Follow footprints. / See where they lead you”). Dek’s evocative woodland pictures, earnest phrases, and unhurried pacing evoke the quiet pauses and exhilarating discoveries experienced during a walk in the forest. Inventive compositional choices and surprising, shifting perspectives keep readers alert, expectant, and fully engaged. They look from above in all-encompassing aerial illustrations; they burble underwater, examine nests, seeds, blossoms, and wild strawberries, gaze eye to eye with a fox, and survey upper branches from a bough. Deer and birds come and go across the page. Vines creep. Footprints meander. A breathless quiet falls on wordless spreads, conjuring that feeling of clearheadedness offered by nature.
A startling, successful evocation of the natural world and an urgent entreaty for young people to immerse themselves in the outdoors. (Picture book. 4-8)