Reviews for Into the Forest
Booklist Reviews 2004 November #2
Gr. 3-5. In this picture book for older children, Browne's beautiful surreal imagery reveals a child's terror in ordinary life. A young boy wakes up one morning to find that Dad is gone. There is emptiness everywhere. When sad Mom asks the boy to take a cake to Grandma, he chooses the forbidden path, and he is lost in the wood. The clear pencil pictures of the forest, with only the boy in bright watercolors, show bare, shadowy trees full of frightening spikes, gaping holes, and branches like thick tentacles. As his journey progresses, the boy encounters contemporary kids in elemental fairy-tale roles-- among them, Red Riding Hood and a bespectacled brother and his sobbing sister who have been abandoned by their parents. Finally, the boy knocks on the door of Grandma's cottage--and finds Dad inside. As with most fairy tales, there's a huge turnaround at the close--a happy return home, presented in glowing color. The power of the story is in the fearful detail that reveals the child's nightmare of being forsaken. Readers older than the elementary-school audience may want to talk about the story's connection to timeless fairy tales such as "Hansel and Gretel" as well as its psychological underpinnings. ((Reviewed November 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
A boy wakes to find his dad inexplicably absent and is sent by his sad mom to bring cake to his ailing grandma. He takes the forest route, where fairy-tale characters lurk among watchful-eyed trees. Grandma welcomes him, feeling better; and Dad's there, too, ready and happy to come home. Browne's art eloquently expresses the feelings of a child too young to fully comprehend pivotal family events. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2005 #1
Once again, Browne considers the links between childhood fears and the imagination: after awakening to a "terrible sound" (possible sources -- or magnitude -- suggested by lightning and by an armed, one-legged toy soldier), the narrator finds his dad inexplicably absent and is sent by his sad mom to bring cake to his ailing Grandma. Rashly, the boy takes the forest route, shown in haunting grisaille and peopled with fairy-tale characters (among them Browne's own 1981 Hansel and Gretel) who beg for help or lurk among looming, muscular, and watchful-eyed trees. Underlining the "Red Riding Hood" parallel, the boy finds and dons a red cloak; however, it's Grandma herself who welcomes him, feeling better; and Dad's there, too, ready and happy to come home. The forest scene is a subtler rendition of the one where a sister rescues her brother in The Tunnel (rev. 5/90); there's an even stronger resonance with Changes (rev. 5/91), where surreal transformations reflect the emotions of a child awaiting a new sibling. As always, Browne's exquisitely crafted art tells an entertaining story while eloquently expressing the feelings of a child too young to fully comprehend pivotal family events. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2004 #2
A little boy's anxieties over his absent father channel themselves into a deeply metaphorical journey through a fairy-tale forest to Grandma's. A one-legged toy soldier in the opening panel hints at a military absence, although the reason for the father's disappearance is never articulated. The story moves from the concrete to the symbolic when he's sent to Grandma's with a cake. Into a tangled black-and-white forest he ventures, against his mother's admonition. On his way, he meets a boy selling a cow, a hungry yellow-haired girl, and two lost children; in addition to the obvious fairy-tale references, Browne sprinkles other elements-a key, a spinning wheel, a tower-into the surreal, terrifyingly twisted landscape. When the boy gets to Grandma's, he finds both Grandma and Dad, a happy but supremely illogical reunion entirely consistent with a very small child's direct desire for solutions, not explanations. The literary allusions, however, require an older audience-one that may well not be satisfied with the easy ending. Not as whole, perhaps, as Outside Over There, but a fine, unsettling evocation of emotion nevertheless. (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 October #3
The tenor of Browne's (The Shape Game; My Dad) latest multifaceted tale moves purposefully and effectively from foreboding to reassuring. Browne builds an aura of uneasiness from the first scene, in which a boy awakens in the night to "a terrible sound" and lightening flashing outside his window; a one-legged toy soldier stands by his bed. At the seemingly vast breakfast table, he discovers that his father is not at home ("I asked Mom when he was coming back, but she didn't seem to know"). The next day, Mom asks him to take a cake to his sick Grandma and he cuts through the forbidden forest, since he wants to get home quickly in case his father returns. Browne pictures the ominous forest in deep brown and white tones; only the basket-toting boy (who finds a hooded red coat hanging from a tree just as he grows cold) appears in color. Increasingly anxious, he encounters four children (whom experienced readers will recognize from fairytales)-two of whom have missing parents. The finale resolves all of the hero's worries, however, and restores the boy, Grandma and his own missing parent to a vibrant palette. Characteristically, Browne uses color, light and shadow in his pencil and watercolor artwork to dramatic effect, and incorporates copious particulars that readers may miss on the first pass (the forest hides many surprises). Adults caring for youngsters coping with anxiety may find that walking them through this protean story is quite therapeutic. Ages 5-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2004 November
K-Gr 3-After a stormy night, a boy awakens to find his father gone. The child misses him terribly, though the specifics of his whereabouts are unstated. When the boy's mother asks him to take a basket to Grandma, who is not feeling well, she warns him not to take the shortcut through the forest. Worried that he might not be home when Dad returns, the child disobeys. Starkly illustrated in black and white, with color used to highlight the boy, this forest is quite ominous. The trees are full of spikes as he enters, and gnarled with faces that loom over him on ensuing pages. The boy encounters a variety of recognizable, if a bit mean, fairy-tale characters-Jack trying to sell his cow, Hansel and Gretel, and a selfish Goldilocks. He even finds a red coat, completing his transformation as Red Riding Hood. Recalling a story his grandmother told him about a bad wolf, the boy is terrified to open her door. Yet in a surprisingly reassuring twist, he finds his comforting Grandma, who's feeling better, and also his dad. Browne's text is deceptively short, leaving much room for interpretation. As usual, his hyperrealistic, pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are full of rich details. Each child may take something different from this psychological picture book, but the reassuring ending is especially comforting. It is possible to go into the forest of dreams/the imagination and emerge even stronger.-Robin L. Gibson, formerly at Perry County District Library, New Lexington, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.