Thursday, 25 April 2013

Into the Forest by Anthony Browne (Walker Books)

Not everyone likes it when Anthony Browne's books stray away from the cuddly and colourful "Willy"  and "Gorilla" style books into darker territory. One of the most disturbing children's books in Browne's back catalogue, "The Tunnel" is echoed here in "Into the Forest" as once again Browne lets his surreal art style and darkly tinged imagination run riot with classic fairy tale characters.

With familiar tones, a young boy decides to visit his grandmother, armed with some treats for her. He is warned by his mother to go the long way to Grandma's house, and to stay away from the forest path - even though it's a short cut.

Like most boys, the hero of this story doesn't listen to his mum's sound advice and soon discovers that there's more than one dark presence lurking between the trees.

Browne's visual style means that you could spend all day with the book just marvelling at the hidden details and the 'things' that you can pick out amongst the gnarled tree trunks and dark knolls he's so expert at depicting. There is a moral lesson to the tale, which borrows heavily from all manner of Hans Christian Andersen stories and other classic sources.

We loved this book, but kept it well away from bed-times!

Charlotte's best bit: Her sharp little eyes were able to pick out far more details in the forest than I could spot. Absolutely loved finding all the hidden objects and characters.

Daddy's favourite bit: Browne is a master of storytelling whether he's dealing with light airy subjects, funny characters - or like here with sinister and foreboding tales that warn of danger and darkness. Utterly compelling.