Review of Hike

by Pete Oswald; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.    g
3/20    978-1-5362-0157-4    $17.99

A new day dawns as a father wakes his child so they can head out from their city home into the country to go on a daylong hike. They see all sorts of wildlife, encounter and overcome obstacles along their trail, and enjoy some snacks. But this is not just any ordinary hike: upon reaching their destination — a grove of trees — they plant the sapling they’ve brought along and take a selfie next to it. Back at home, they snuggle on the couch looking through their photo album at pictures of previous generations in their family next to each of the trees that they planted (shown closer up on the copyright page, including our brown-skinned father as a child with his light-skinned mother). Oswald’s heartwarming wordless (other than a few sound effects) story lets the digital illustrations carry the narrative. Using varied perspectives, he highlights the action in successions of spot illustrations, while full pages and double-page spreads offer reflective moments in which to marvel at the beauty of Mother Nature. Upon closer reading, it’s clear that the opening and closing pages provide visual clues (the child’s drawings, outdoor supplies) about their journey and its significance. There’s gentle humor throughout, and the loving relationship between this father and child enjoying the outdoors together is movingly emphasized. Oswald’s use of earth tones and textures reinforces the beauty of the natural world and the importance of sustaining it through simple family traditions like this one.

From the March/April 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University.

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