cover image Into the Outdoors

Into the Outdoors

Susan Gal. Knopf, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-86958-7

Like her previous two picture books, Night Lights and Take Me for a Walk!, Gal’s third offering takes particular delight in the pleasures to be had outside, as a family of four packs up its woodie station wagon and literally heads for the hills on a camping trip. The artwork—rough charcoal shapes augmented with digital collages—is gleefully retro in its muddy palette of browns and green, the characters’ vintage outfits (hats for everyone!), and the Mary Blair quality to the friendly wildlife the family meets. The whole project has the feel of a storyboard for a mid-century filmstrip about getting back to nature. It’s also an exercise in language, as Gal uses the journey to contextualize several prepositions: “We pitch our tent among the trees and set off along the hiking trail.” Naturalism isn’t the chief goal (the toddler in the family befriends a smiling bear), yet Gal’s attention to light, especially the way it filters through the trees, and her ability to evoke the serenity of the forest result in an idealized ode to the wild green yonder. Ages 5–9. (Oct.)