Friday, December 4, 2015

OUT of the WOODS - A true Story of an Unforgettable Event

    First of all, I hope everyone had a relaxing Thanksgiving holiday. It used to be my favorite holiday, but now that family is scattered across the country and we can't always be together for this long weekend, I have to give the nod to Christmas when with end of the year vacations saved up we are able to spend time together. 
     My book recommendation today isn't a Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or Christmas title. But it stopped me with a sense of awe and magic which is a wonderful thing to share at any holiday. And the generational story-telling aspect took me home.                                  
Author/Illustrator: Rebecca Bond
Publisher: FS&G, Margaret Ferguson Books, 2015

Intended age: 5-9 
Themes: Animals, Memoir

First lines: "Antonio Willie Giroux lived in Ontario, Canada, in the town of Gowganda, on the edge of Gowganda Lake, in a hotel his mother ran. It was not a fancy place in 1914, but it was big--three stories tall."

Synopsis: A young boy who hopes for more than half glimpses of the forest creatures gets his wish when a fire tears through the surrounding forest and the animals and the people of a small town, prey and predators, have to find safety. NOTE: Spoiler alert: The and description/summary of this book as well as Kirkus and many of the Goodreads reviews give the story away.

Why I like this Book: This book appeals to the rule breaker in me!
     The book tells a story, but it feels more like a mood piece (rule broken!). The fairly wordy text (rule broken!) is used for extensive description rather than action (rule broken!) And it works beautifully with muted, almost monochromatic illustrations. Based on a story passed down by the author's grandfather, the book's dreamy mysterious feel was compelling. Despite the author's note, and the subtitle that the story is true, the book is shelved in fiction leaving the reader to wonder--did this really happen? It is lovely to think that it did. Not a quick read, it's a story that begs for pages to be poured over thoughtfully. There are three spreads in the height of the action that took my breath away. A reminder that we share this world with many and we're all in this together.

      I didn't want to give the story climax away--which made it hard to suggest activities!
  • The Fire Protection Association has advice to create a fire plan for your home.
  • Organize a family story night. Go around the table and let everyone re-tell their favorite story about a real event that happened to them. Include several generations, if possible!
  • Draw pictures of favorite/memorable family moments
  • Think about an animal's Thanksgiving. How would it compare to your own?
  • Review the illustrations and compare life in the early 1900's to your own.
Let me know if this is on your reading list! I love to read your comments.

This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF


  1. If it is listed as a memoir, it must have an element of truth to the story. I was surprised that this book was published this year. From your review, I thought it was more like the books I read as a child. There is a sense of mystery in the story. Will have to check this book out as I'm curious.

    1. The classification of the story IS interesting--who knows how much truth there are in the stories that our ancestors pass down? Does it mean it's untrue, just because we don't have source material?

  2. Like Patricia commented above, I, too, thought the publication date would be from the 60's. I'm eager to check out this book based on what you've written about it. Thank you for not giving the ending away and for alerting us not to look at other reviews that do.

    1. This is a story where the climactic moment really sells the story, so I'm glad I didn't read the flap or reviews before I read the story itself. Then re-read and enjoyed again. :)

  3. This sounds classic and modern at the same time and I am so glad you didn't give away the climax!

    1. Thanks, Joanna. It's hard not to share awesome story moments!