This posthumously published picture book offers readers a rhyming romp through the woods.
Debut author Frank’s work is organized into two long-form poems. In the first, “Clarence and Porky,” Clarence, a bear, loves honey, and Porky, a porcupine, loves salt. The bear finds his favorite treat on a high shelf in an abandoned cabin. He’s big but not quite tall enough to reach the honey. He later happens upon Porky, with whom he shares his troubled tale. It turns out that Porky had found the cabin earlier and saw a box of salt sitting on the same shelf, beside the honey jar. Together, the friends decide that Porky will climb onto Clarence’s shoulders so that they can both achieve their comestible goals. Turning to another part of the forest, “Reynold and Gerald” tells of two foxes who astutely outsmart a pack of dogs without breaking a sweat. The two best friends are inseparable and look nearly identical. As one clever fox naps in their hollow-log home, the other leads the rapidly tiring pack around the field; then the foxes switch while keeping their pursuers ignorant of the fact that they’re chasing more than one target. They perform this ruse over and over until they finally win the day. This book seems made to be read aloud, as it’s written in well-timed, descriptive verse: “The atmosphere is hushed and dark, / A jungle made of leaves and bark.” Reynold’s and Gerald’s names both evoke the fabled Reynard the fox—a clever tidbit that lovers of folktales will undoubtedly appreciate. The pleasant poems are punctuated with gentle, earth-toned, uncredited illustrations of the animals and their surroundings, lovingly rendered in a careful stylistic balance between realism and cartoonish fun. Overall, the book shows a clear respect for nature, nodding to humanity’s relationship with the outdoors in a preface poem.
An excellent addition to any young nature lover’s library.