cover image Evergreen


Matthew Cordell. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-250-31717-9

This action-packed forest marathon from Cordell (Cornbread and Poppy), which reads like a “Little Red Riding Hood” remix, stars oft-terrified squirrel Evergreen, sent by her mother through Buckthorn Forest to take Granny Oak a neat acorn’s worth of healing soup. A wide-eyed rodent in a worn red shawl (a nod, perhaps, to her folktale forebearer), Evergreen generally hides “behind the closed curtains of a bedroom window,” dreading so many things that “it would take far too long to list them all.” Though a forest-wide trip intimidates her, her mother reassures her that she can do it, and she sets out. Across the book’s six parts, Evergreen frees a rabbit named Briar, is carried off by a hawk called Ember, and hinders would-be soup thieves of all kinds—and that’s just for starters. Cordell’s dense, scribbly ink hatching and watercolor washes are fittingly deployed throughout, portraying animalian feathers and fur alongside soft, earthen growing things. Vignettes framed in twisted driftwood lend notes of old-fashioned charm that temper loud noises (“GRRROOOAAARRR!”) and unexpected encounters. The contrast between Evergreen’s own self-doubt and the way she shines under pressure is conveyed with humor and skill in this adventuresome allegory about confronting the world outside as well as one’s own very real fears. Ages 2–5. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary. (Feb.)