Alone in the Forest

Gita Wolf and Andrea Anastasio, illus. by Bhajju Shyam. Tara (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-81-923171-5-1
Wolf and Anastasio’s exploration of a boy’s anxiety is vivid enough to make readers themselves uneasy. A boy named Musa, gathering wood in the forest by himself, hears a tremendous noise: “Craack! Boooom! Crack!” The drama that unfolds is not in the forest, but in Musa’s mind. Gond tribal artist Shyam’s figures are as flat and stylized as medieval icons. He paints Musa’s fear-widened eyes against a sea of angry red. “It was a wild boar!” Musa thinks. A page turn reveals a swirling herd of wild boars with fangs and red tongues. Hiding in a tree, Musa grows more agitated: “He crouched in the dark hole, ready for something terrible to happen any second. He forgot everything else, and just waited.” At last Musa finds his way home by holding the tail of a friendly cow. After the dark reds and blacks of Musa’s imaginings, Shyam telegraphs his relief with sunlit blues and greens. The book’s greatest pleasure lies, unexpectedly, in Shyam’s images of the forest as a living kaleidoscope, full of intricate, shifting patterns of leaves and branches. Ages 4–up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
Genre: Children's
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