cover image Into the Woods

Into the Woods

J. Torres, illus. by Faith Erin Hicks. Kids Can, $17.95 (100p) ISBN 978-1-55453-711-2

In the first book in the Bigfoot Boy series, 10-year-old Rufus resigns himself to a boring weekend with his grandmother out in the sticks; instead he finds adventure, magic, and friendship. His chance discovery of a fabled totem in the forest leaves him with the ability to become a sasquatch, guardian of the woods. It also makes him and his new friend Penny targets for those who covet the totem's power. When Penny vanishes, Rufus uses his newfound power to brave the unfamiliar forest and the hidden enemies it contains. Hicks's art is as clean and skillful, as one would expect from her "Friends with Boys" and "Demonology 101" Web comics. Fellow Canadian Torres provides a straightforward adventure that introduces a few problematic elements. Although Penny, a First Nations girl, is profoundly connected to her forest home and a capable woodsman in her own right, she is relegated to sidekick territory while Caucasian outsider Rufus finds the totem and saves the day. Talking animals and an emphasis on humor should broaden the appeal of this fantasy story, but Penny's helplessness in contrast to Rufus's agency is discouraging. Ages 7%E2%80%9310. (Sept.)