cover image The Forest Child

The Forest Child

Richard Edwards. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-09463-1

Newcomer Malone's art is the most distinctive feature of this otherwise disappointing book. Edwards's (Leopards on Mars; Moles Can Dance) plot is familiar but promising: forest animals raise a girl, teaching her to run, swim and find food; eventually a boy befriends her. Then a heartless hunter captures her and, for no clear reason, locks her in his house and tries to teach her ""to behave."" The child can't comprehend any of his commands, which infuriates him. The boy intercedes but fails, so he rounds up the girl's forest friends, who promptly chase the villain into a big mud puddle that swallows him up. Despite these dramatic events, Edwards's delivery is humdrum and his tale makes little impression. More intriguing are Malone's stately illustrations, at once ethereal and earthy. His characters, animal and human, move in the suspended animation of a dream, ruled by the lyricism only hinted at in the text. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)