Looking for Peppermint: Or Life in the Forest

Holiday House/Neal Porter. Feb. 2024. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823452088.
K-Gr 3–An enthusiastic and capable guide in the form of a child with a pink dress and yellow boots runs around the forest, ostensibly in search of lost-dog Peppermint, but in fact offering readers a chance to scour the speech bubbles for fact-on-fact and story-after-story about the woods, nature, animal encounters, and family. The illustrations carry enough detail to convey what the text explicates: names of trees, what happens when they fall, when to follow forest yore (chewing gum from crusty old red spruce sap) and when to abstain (leave alone the clear fresh sap). This is an impossible book to read aloud to a group, as the pictures need to be viewed as the narrative unfolds, with drawings within the drawings done in a different style than the main art, and Peppermint herself holding forth with funny asides. This could be for readers just a bit too young for graphic novels or for those who love layers of humor, excessive detail, nature facts, and anecdotes piled up so high that they won’t know what hit them. The narration is precocious, an ill-fit for the size of the child, but so compelling that readers will keep turning the pages, hoping for more.
VERDICT The best kind of nature walk, with an entertaining guide out front, and yet one more blurred line between fiction and nonfiction that offers children more than the sum of its parts.

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