cover image The Heart of the Wood

The Heart of the Wood

Marguerite W. Davol. Simon & Schuster, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-671-74778-7

Davol sheds some gentle light on the interconnected worlds of art and nature in her first picture book. In a cumulative poem fashioned after ``The House That Jack Built,'' she relates how a fiddle that plays beautiful music is eventually formed from a sycamore tree that grows in the Winderly Woods. The melodious text with a sing-song rhythm could well be a jumping off point for numerous discussions of such touched-upon topics as ecology, craftsmanship and art appreciation. Readers may want to know more about why the mockingbird was displaced from her home, or about the woodcutter and woodcarver's work. Hamanaka's ( The Journey ; The Terrible Eek ) rich, double-page oil paintings deftly capture the Winderly Woods in the peak of their autumnal splendor. Sunlight filtering through the leaves and later through the woodcarver's window infuses the scenes with a warm glow. A spread depicting a joyous outdoor crowd of dancing couples moving to the fiddle's tune is particularly heart-lifting. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)