cover image INTO THE FOREST


Anthony Browne, . . Candlewick, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2511-5

The tenor of Browne's (The Shape Game ; My Dad ) latest multifaceted tale moves purposefully and effectively from foreboding to reassuring. Browne builds an aura of uneasiness from the first scene, in which a boy awakens in the night to "a terrible sound" and lightening flashing outside his window; a one-legged toy soldier stands by his bed. At the seemingly vast breakfast table, he discovers that his father is not at home ("I asked Mom when he was coming back, but she didn't seem to know"). The next day, Mom asks him to take a cake to his sick Grandma and he cuts through the forbidden forest, since he wants to get home quickly in case his father returns. Browne pictures the ominous forest in deep brown and white tones; only the basket-toting boy (who finds a hooded red coat hanging from a tree just as he grows cold) appears in color. Increasingly anxious, he encounters four children (whom experienced readers will recognize from fairytales)—two of whom have missing parents. The finale resolves all of the hero's worries, however, and restores the boy, Grandma and his own missing parent to a vibrant palette. Characteristically, Browne uses color, light and shadow in his pencil and watercolor artwork to dramatic effect, and incorporates copious particulars that readers may miss on the first pass (the forest hides many surprises). Adults caring for youngsters coping with anxiety may find that walking them through this protean story is quite therapeutic. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)