Friday, September 14, 2007

review: Forest Bright, Forest Night

Forest Bright, Forest Night by Jennifer Ward. illustrated by Jamichael Henterly. Dawn, 2005 (978-1-58469-089-4) $7.95 board

Count to ten twice, first with a forest by day, then with a forest by night. In the day, a deer splashes, two bear cubs tumble and three woodpeckers tap; at night three opposums peek, four foxes prowl and five skunks amble. Despite the many active verbs--"chatter and chase... chipmunks race/strut and wobble... turkeys gobble"--the short rhyming text reads very soothingly, in conjunction with the naturalistic but slightly dreamy pictures, making this book seem just right for bedtime. On the other hand, you might want to allow more time to explore some of the captivating detail in the illustrations. The day and night sections each contain the other's opposite: an owl sleeps while the deer splashes during the day; at night, the "owl eyes search" while the deer curls up to sleep. The animals blend intriguingly with their natural surroundings; I particularly like the woodpecker that's just barely visible through a knothole. Perhaps best of all, each page has its number somewhere blended into the background: a sleeping salamander's tail curves into a six, moss on a log forms an eight. These pictures are so packed with interest, the book is probably even better in its larger picture book form. (2-8)

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