Browne, Anthony. 2004. INTO THE FOREST. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763625446
This story is unlike any routine fairy tale. An unnamed boy wakes up in bed and finds out that his dad has disappeared. The
sparse but minutely drawn illustrations show a mother who has told her son Dad will come back but she looks so depressed and
so powerless her words are not easily believable. Meanwhile the mother asks the child to visit a sick Grandma in order to
take her a bit of cake. Mom of course expects him to go the long way but the child decides to take a short cut. The forest
is straight out of a Dadaesque dream. It is populated with large, vaguely projectile looking tree trunks. They have protuberances
on them that look monstrous. Along the way the lad meets a creepy quartet of children also drawn in black and white who seem
vaguely connected to folktales of their own. There is a menacing quality about them. The first child he meets claims to be
sick but the possibility of a ruse to entrap this naive youth into something dangerous. Even the last two children met seem
to have stepped out of a contemporary Hansel and Gretel story. These two children have been abandoned by their parents and
like the anonymous boy at the beginning are told complacently that they will return soon.
The further along the boy travels the more foreboding this nearly deserted forest appears. While he is drawn in color
virtually nothing he encounters save a coat that mysteriously appears in the forest is in color. There is an underbelly of
anxiety and a sense of hidden agendas in this bizarre tale. While the format is a picture book, the psychological underpinnings
that hover along the edges of the story make this a good example of picture books not for little ones.