Review of A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods A Walk in the Woods
by Nikki Grimes; illus. by Jerry Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
Primary  Porter/Holiday    40 pp.
9/23    9780823449651    $18.99

Shortly after his father’s death, a boy opens an envelope his father left him to find a map of the woods with a bright red X marking a destination. Still coping with his loss, he sets out on the path he and his father had taken on their walks through the woods near home. Along the way, the familiarity of trees, creatures, and a Mohican water storage house softens his sorrow while he reminisces about their conversations. At the marked spot, he discovers a metal box filled with sketches of wildlife and unfinished stories created by his father when he was the boy’s age. The last page is blank with a note to the boy: “Draw and write your own story. I’ll always be watching.” Grimes’s celebration of nature is as eloquent as her treatment of loss is poignant. Brian Pinkney’s watercolor illustrations are equally expressive. This book began as a collaboration between Grimes and Jerry Pinkney; following Jerry’s death in 2021, Brian joined Grimes to complete his father’s illustrations, adding color to Jerry’s tight sketches. Appended notes from Grimes and Brian Pinkney share their respective personal experiences with the collaboration. A touching testament to the power of memories to sustain those in grief.

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Pauletta Brown Bracy
Pauletta Brown Bracy is professor of library science at North Carolina Central University. She is chair of the 2015-2017 Coretta Scott King Book Awards committee and serves on the 2017 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards committee.

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