The Woods

Paul Hoppe. Chronicle, $16.99 (44p) ISBN 978-0-8118-7547-9
"[L]ast night, I couldn't find my bunny anywhere!" a pajama-clad boy tells readers, looking out at them from under the covers. "There was only one place left to look." The page turns: "I had to go into the woods." Armed with his nightlight, a sword, and a helmet (his wastebasket), he meets a "BIG, SCARY BROWN BEAR" ("But the bear was just afraid of the dark. So I shared my night-light with him"), "TWO SCARY GIANTS" ("But the giants were just bored. So I shared my bedtime story with them"), and other intimidating creatures, which he befriends before getting his bunny back. In Hoppe's (Hat) jewel-colored pen-and-watercolor spreads, the monsters leer, gawp, and taunt, giving the boy a scare (readers, too, probably), though he always recovers gracefully. The creatures are eventually revealed to be the boy's own stuffed animals, seen scattered on his bedroom floor. Between the lines, Hoppe delivers some wisdom about the vulnerability inside every bully, and his witty artwork (the bear wears a blingy necklace that says "Honey") underscores the welcome bedtime message that there's nothing to be afraid of. Ages 4–8. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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