A young boy wakes up one morning to find his father gone; his mom doesn't know when he's going back. After he sadly wanders around their home, his mother decides to send him to his grandmother's house with a basket of food. She warns him not to take the path into the forest, but it's the quicker way, and he doesn't want to be away from home in case his father comes back. As he wanders through the forest, he finds a number of other kids who all have stories of their own. Unnerved, he picks up the pace, but when he gets to his grandmother's house, he finds something completely unexpected.
This is a sad, strange book. The sadness just radiated off the page, leaving me unsettled after reading it (even though it has what would be considered to be a positive ending) (that still left me with some unanswered questions). The cover captured my attendion: Is his shadow a rabbit? Is that a frog behind the tree? Why is the forest gray? What is that on the right side? The illustrations inside provide many opportunities for eagle-eyed readers to pick out objects from many other folk and fairy tales (a pumpkin and a slipper, a spinning wheel, a cottage made of candy). I was blown away by the skill that these illustrations demand (particularly the spread with Goldilocks, but really all of the pages). While I found it to be a sad tale, for children who are coping with anxiety and dark situations the promise of a happy ending might be just what they're looking for.
Find it at IndieBound.
Read it with:
Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne
Little Red Riding Hood by Jerry Pinkney
Me and You by Anthony Browne
The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Wolves by Emily Gravett