Review policy

I am very happy to review any novel that fits in with the theme of this blog: novels aimed at 9-14 year olds, preferably with a fantasy/ speculative world setting. However, I will make clear in the review that I was sent the book by the publisher and I will write my honest opinion. Please feel free to contact me via Twitter or Facebook, or fantasticreads at gmail dot com.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

An Illustrated Year: Into the Forest by Anthony Browne



This is possibly my favourite Anthony Browne book.

Image: walker.co.uk

A boy is woken by a terrible sound. Outside there is a storm, but when he goes downstairs in the morning, his dad is gone. His mum is sad- in front of her in the illustration of breakfast, she just has an empty mug, and is staring in front of her. The boy misses his dad, and writes labels saying so. His mum gives him a basket and tells him to take a cake to his Grandma, and to be sure to go the safe way, not through the forest. But the boy wants to get there quickly, so he can be home in case his dad gets back.

Going through the forest, he meets fairy tale characters: there is Jack, with his cow, Goldilocks, Hansel and Gretel (or maybe the Babes in the Wood). The illustrations go from full colour to black and white (except for the boy) in the forest, and the trees are threatening, with strange faces in them- and other fairy tale objects, such as an axe, a spinning wheel and a pumpkin. 

The boy finds a red coat hanging from a tree, which he puts on, and then continues to Grandma's house. Snow is starting to fall. He knocks on the door, and when a strange voice says "Come in, dear," he enters, and finds.....

Grandma! He hugs her, and turns round to find his dad there. They eat cake, and go back home to find mum smiling.

What I love about Anthony Browne's books is that while the story may be fairly straightforward, the illustrations interact with it so well, enriching, sometimes contradicting, the text. The reader can know the story off by heart, but pouring over the illustrations can always find something new. A fabulous book for 6+.

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