STARRED REVIEW
November 12, 2014

A seasonal book perfect for story time

By George Ella Lyon, illustrated by August Hall
Review by

In this ode to the natural world, the talented George Ella Lyon documents in lyrical free verse the wonders of a forest as the Earth travels through space around the sun and goes from cold to warm and back to cold again.

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In this ode to the natural world, the talented George Ella Lyon documents in lyrical free verse the wonders of a forest as the Earth travels through space around the sun and goes from cold to warm and back to cold again.

With pleasing alliteration (“warblers, woodpeckers, bluebirds / sing spring songs, / weave nests”) and satisfying and evocative imagery, Lyon takes us from our busy, media-saturated lives to the peace and natural order of the woods—and talks to us about what it “knows.” Readers follow an enthusiastic, rust-colored dog as he bounds through the woods and experiences the flora, fauna and wild creatures that call the woods home.

Hall—who rendered the illustrations in Photoshop, even sometimes creating them over old photographs—first gives readers just bits and pieces of the rambunctious dog. We see the dog exit a spread as a quick, colorful blur, breathless and curious. This makes for compelling page turns, and it’s gratifying once we finally see the whole dog, as well as the boy who’s caught up with him. In one of the closing winter spreads, the dog is right up in the reader’s face, as if he’s about to lick us: “Sniff. Forest knows everything belongs.”

Forest also knows growing, giving and letting go. It knows “waking, opening up.” It knows life and perseverance. It knows patience and that waiting can often bring beautiful results. Most of all, it knows that creatures need each other for survival. Towards the book’s close, Lyon speaks directly to the reader in a seamless shift: Get to know a forest, she coaxes. “Listen. Look.”

Readers will be happy to listen and look in this eloquent picture book.

 

Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.

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What Forest Knows

What Forest Knows

By George Ella Lyon, illustrated by August Hall
Atheneum
ISBN 9781442467750

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