cover image Bambi


Felix Salten. Atheneum Books, $18 (47pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81954-4

Departing from the cuddly-fawn model of the classic Disney film, Schulman (The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury) restores the depth of Bambi's character as she introduces young readers to Bambi: A Life in the Woods, Felix Salten's 1923 novel. Young Bambi explores his new world with wide, wondering eyes, soaking up the experiences that will help him grow into a strong, brave and independent stag. But in order to survive, Bambi must also heed the advice of the wise Great Prince and remember his mother's warnings about ""Him,"" the two-legged ""creature"" who hunts the animals of the forest. Unfortunately, ""He"" soon claims the life of Bambi's mother, forcing Bambi to carry on alone. Combining innocence, realism and a profound respect for nature, Schulman's text swiftly moves to the heart of Salten's lessons, namely, the importance of thinking for oneself and of acknowledging that no living creature is all-powerful. Johnson and Fancher, previously paired on Copp lia by Margot Fonteyn, provide stirring nature scenes in oil paintings of varied size and shape, dappled with sunlight or sometimes darkened by ominous shadows. Whether they are frolicking in fields of purple wildflowers or scattering at the hint of danger, the artists' deer are beauties. All ages. (Oct.)