Archive for January 12th, 2018

by Sam Juliano

A brief survey of the end papers confirms Stephanie Graegin’s Little House in the Forest as something unique.  On the spine of each book on a single shelf shared with a bevy of stuffed animals are titles that reveal the myriad narrative and pictorial structure of the book, which will include a woodland mystery, mythological creatures and a magical unicorn, a preponderance of flowers, forest creatures, a study of bears, birds and the heavens and a primer in animal illustration, the last of which could be equally applied to the story’s central young protagonist and Ms. Graegin herself.  Last year’s Christmas offering The Lost Gift is an underrated gem that received a review for this series, and a few year’s before that Graegin reviewed wide acclaim for the illustrations she crafted for Water in the Park by Emily Jenkins.

The title page, showcasing a young girl of color sleeping with her stuffed animal and including a wall picture of her holding hands with her “little fox” under hearts, makes it clear there is special bond between human and object.  Upon morning wake-up on school mornings the girl places her beloved object back on the shelf, where it remains when she is out of the house.  After dressing she walks to school, sneaks up behind her bespectacled friend and covers his eyes no doubt uttering “Guess who?” though of course Graegin is leaving each reader their own manner of artistic license.  After the students settle in their teacher points to chalk board in a two-third sized canvas..  A show and tell is scheduled for the following day and the specifications are that the choice should be “something old” and “something treasured.” In a thought bubble the girl happily plans her own presentation, one that will feature her adored little fox.  The remaining third of the single page canvas depicts dismissal where the girl is clearly excited over the welcome assignment.  Back at home she takes down her most revered possession and then a box of pictures showing her and the little fox in an array of activities.  It appears that the most memorable times in her young life were spent with the absolute favorite resident of her bedroom bookshelf. (more…)

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