Forest Has a Song

Forest Has a Song

"Forest  News
I  stop to read
the  Forest News
in  mud or fallen snow,
Articles  are printed
by  critters on the go.
Foxes  pass.
Deer  run through.
Turkeys  scratch
for  hidden food.
Young  raccoons
drink  sips of creek.
Mouse  and hawk
play  hide and seek.
Here  a possum
climbs  a tree trunk
with  her child.
And  in this place
while  people sleep
a  rabbit hops.
A  housecat creeps.
Scribbled  hints
in  footprints
tell  about the day.
I  stop to read
the  Forest News
before  it's worn away."

Early  in the morning, here on a Saturday in Sebastopol, it is foggy and
chilly and  relatively quiet. Just a crow complaining in the distance about
something or  other.

It  is pretty conducive to my transporting myself back to one of those
early  Saturday mornings, many decades ago, when I shivered a bit as we walked
through  a damp woods on the east coast; the pungent smell of rotting leaves
and fungi  thick in the air; the remaining snow lying in patches in the
shelter of trees; a  few squirrels observing our wanderings along a trail.

That  is where this book takes me.  There  are times that I take great joy in having, so far, gotten to
experience  everything from an early childhood of ancient black and white
television to this  bold new era when I teach library students in several countries
without leaving  my home.

But  then, on the other hand, I've recently been exposed to an overload of
little  children playing video games that are designed for teaching soldiers
how to  kill. And cavernous marketplaces filled with plastic everythings.
And now,  forty-something years after Joni Mitchell sat in a Manhattan hotel
room and  wrote about our having to get back to the Garden (of Eden -- not
the nearby  Madison Square one), I am thinking and fussing about how we, as
librarians, can  help create a little bit of balance, a little bit of peace
and sanity in our  little corners of the planet, by exposing our young
patrons and their parents to  books like FOREST HAS A SONG, an exceptionally
beautiful book of poetry filled  with whimsical verse and images about the
outdoors that are soothing my soul on  this relatively quiet morning.
I'm  a big fan of Robbin Gourley's watercolor illustrations, and I really
like how  she has visualizes this collection of VanDerwater's poems about
traipsing  through the woods. A girl and her dog are clearly at home in this
forest where  they encounter pinecones, and chickadees and trilobites;
fiddleheads, and lichen  and Lady's Slippers. I really like Gourley's provision of
white space,  permitting my eyes a place to rest amidst the shadows of trees
as I quietly  reflect on the poems and images.

"Bone  Pile
I  wonder
were  you someone's meal?
I  wonder
were  you old?
I  wonder
did  you freeze to death
last  winter
in  the cold?
I  wonder
how  you'd tell the tale.
I  wonder
if  you could.
I  wonder
who  will bury you?
I  wonder
if  I should."

FOREST  HAS A SONG ends with a Farewell poem, in which the Forest whispers
to the girl  that she should remember her. This is a fitting conclusion for
this very  beautiful and memorable collection of poems.

ISBN: 978-0-618-843497  40 pages. Ages 6 & up.

Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, Librarian, California USA See more of Richie's Picks at:


Have our children lost their connection to nature and woods and the great outdoors?  Have they stopped paying attention and valuing the wonder in the world around them beyond digital screens and fast paced technological images?  

Richard Louv wrote LAST CHILD LEFT IN THE WOODS: SAVING OUR CHILDREN FROM NATURE DEFICIT DISORDER to build awareness for the value and importance of nature in our lives, especially our children's lives and to make us stop and think about how much nature is woven into our children's days.

This lilting poetry book uses warm colors and good wishes to bring nature close to us.  How do you get a child to think about nature?  When you go out for a walk, how do you connect your child to the natural world around her?  

Each poem in FOREST HAS A SONG is a little key to a different door in nature.  Each line holds the possibility of opening a child's imagination and helping him see the delight and mystery in tiny little moments.  Is that just a bird in a tree?  Not if you read CHICKADEE and learn to see the world through the eyes of the bird.

Hear an echoing call?  Could be a tree frog calling out a PROPOSAL to a lady frog.  "Pick me now. Make me your choice. I'm one great frog."  

The magic unfolds and reaches to us as an invitation into that amazing world of logs and lichens, and of squirrels and puffs.  

A wonderful collection of poems to read aloud as the seasons turn.   32 pages  Ages 5-9  978-0618843497

Recommended by:  Barb

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