cover image A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods

Nikki Grimes, illus. by Jerry and Brian Pinkney. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-823-44965-1

In an elegantly collaborative picture book about how “there’s always something that remains,” Grimes (Bedtime for Sweet Creatures), the late Jerry Pinkney (The Lion and the Mouse), and Brian Pinkney (Hey Otter! Hey Beaver!) center a grieving Black narrator following his beloved father’s death. A week after the funeral, the child, questioning aloud (“Why did you have to leave?”), opens an envelope left behind and finds a map of the nearby woods that he and his dad often explored—“with a marked spot shouting in bright red: ‘TREASURE.’ ” Emotions run high as the child heads to the woods, encountering memories and remaining alert to changing elements. “With each step, the hurt inside my heart pounds less.” Arriving at the marked spot, he finds a locked box, and inside, a sheaf of illustrations and poems about woodland animals—all created by his father at the child’s age, and all revealed in detail for the reader. Meditatively commanding text accompanies structural sketches that Jerry Pinkney completed before his death as well as loose, forest-hued wash overlays from Brian Pinkney. It’s a powerfully layered call to creativity and loving bonds that endure beyond death: “I close my eyes, and feel Dad next to me, his hand on my shoulder, light as leaves.” Creators’ notes conclude. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. Illustrator’s agent: (for Jerry Pinkney) Sheldon Fogelman, Sheldon Fogelman Agency; (for Brian Pinkney) Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Sept.)