The Big Woods Orchestra

Guido van Genechten. Clavis (IPG, dist.), $17.95 (30p) ISBN 978-1-605371-13-9
As night gives way to day, forest birds create a growing chorus of song. Dutch author/illustrator van Genechten's (Little Snowman Stan) attentive handling of the transition into morning is the best part of this volume. The opening endpapers and early scenes are dominated by a starry black sky, with the trees' shapes hinted at with soft strokes of green and brown pastel. As time passes, the backgrounds shift from dark violets to lavenders and sky blues when the sun finally rises, and the forest and its inhabitants are shown in greater detail. Van Genechten's prose devotes space and attention to the birdcalls, each of which gets its own font and color ("The robin warms up its little vocal chords. frweet-weet weet-weet"). Compared to the soft, sweeping shapes of the forest, the birds and other forest animals are comparatively wooden. The climactic scene in which "the Big Woods Orchestra begins!" simply sticks all seven birds together on a blue spread, and a foldout finale doesn't provide much payoff as deer, wild pigs, and other animals line up in profile to watch two rabbits nuzzle. Ages 3–5. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/11/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
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