A Walk in the Woods

Holiday House/Neal Porter. Sept. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823449651.
Gr 1-4–Grimes writes a heartrending story of loss as a young boy struggles to deal with the death of his father. When the child looks in the mirror, he is disheartened by what he sees—he is all but a replica of his father who has recently died. His father has left him a map of the woods behind their home with a red mark. He decides to take a walk in the woods, which he and his father did regularly. He begins to have an inner dialogue with his dad about the wildlife he sees and hears, and when he finds the place that is marked on the map, he sees a brick fireplace where a house once stood. Inside a metal box are beautiful drawings of wildlife and an unfinished tale. He realizes that his father created the drawings and the story when he was the boy’s age, and the child finds a note from his father encouraging him to continue the story or write his own. This poignant story, obviously amplified by the passing of Jerry Pinkney, is quietly haunting and resonates with the shared experiences of parent and child. There is a third Pinkney involved, Charnelle Pinkney Barlow, who worked with Brian Pinkney to digitally combine Jerry’s sketches with his own impressionistic applications of color.
VERDICT Illustrations and narrative are warp and weft in a beautifully crafted story of grief and triumph. Great for any children’s collection.

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