The Night the Forest Came to Town
illustrated by Annie Wilkinson
Orca Book Publishers, 2018
A city can be all hard surfaces, concrete, brick, pavement, and glass. Adults can be preoccupied with their devices. Billboards, street lights, every kind of distraction. There’s a distinct separation from nature, a disconnect.
In this semi-magical book, nature blows into town overnight, wind-borne seeds take root, and birds and animals follow. A center spread gives us a glimpse into apartment windows where we see individuals engaged in their arts, noticing what’s changing outside their windows.
Ghigna’s rhyming poetry invites readers and storytellers to turn the pages.
“Beneath the swirling shroud of night
A fertile field was found
Where once there was a vacant lot
new seedlings held their ground.”
He helps us notice details with his descriptive language, his reverence for nature.
Wilkinson creates a shadow-filled, deeply-toned nighttime city. Her textures evoke a tactile experience. Touch these pages, reach into nature, appreciate the star-filled sky, the life-sprouting rain, the charming animals. But it’s the panoply of flowers, sophisticated but reminiscent of those a child would draw that tie together text and images into a soothing, contemplative story of the difference nature brings into our lives.
Combine the reading of this book with planning for a school or community garden. Plant a flower seed that will grow indoors and can be taken home once it’s established. Take photos of your neighborhood and print them out on full sheets of paper so students can add their own flowers and animals and trees. Then have them try a poem with Ghigna’s structure to tell the story of their own vision of the forest coming to town.
This is a charming book.