Review of Our Fort

Our FortOur Fort
by Marie Dorléans; illus. by the author; trans. from French by Alyson Waters
Primary    NYRB    48 pp.  g
4/22    978-1-68137-658-5    $19.95

Three children venture out for a day of imaginative play on the way to visit their fort. Dorléans (The Night Walk, rev. 5/21) centers nature in illustrations that overflow in springtime shades of sage green and sky blue, and her fine-lined work emphasizes each leaf and blade of grass. The children’s conversation is rooted in the natural world as they experience it, too—naming sheep, brainstorming ways to improve their fort (if only their parents would let them take a saw!), and speculating on what would happen if they got lost (“‘We’ll have to make a campfire and sleep in the woods.’ ‘And eat grasshoppers, field mice, and mushrooms’”). Readers will notice the day slowly darkening and the wind picking up before the characters do, but even a passing (and perhaps exaggerated) windstorm becomes part of the escapade as the children huddle together and hold onto one another to stay upright. Dorléans demonstrates a keen eye and ear for the chatter and preoccupations of children left to their own devices, and her story shows respect for their independence, creativity, and resilience. This celebration of a day spent outdoors may inspire young readers to embark on their own explorations, and it serves to remind adults why unstructured time is so valuable.

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Adrienne Pettinelli
Adrienne L. Pettinelli

Adrienne L. Pettinelli is the director of the Henrietta (NY) Public Library. She served on the 2015 Caldecott Committee.

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