A YEAR IN THE WOODS © 2017
Creative Editions
Author: Henry David Thoreau / Illustrator: Giovanni Manna
Kirkus Reviews, August 2017
 

Selections from Thoreau’s Walden are illustrated with full-page and double-page watercolors. With dramatic use of negative space, a white moon in a dark blue sky glows above blue-tinged deciduous and pine trees, all reflected in a calm, un-rippled Walden Pond. The page opposite—decorated with two delicately rendered leaves (oak and maple)—begins: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately …” and concludes with a few more sentences describing why Thoreau wanted to live “sturdily and Spartan-like” for a year. The page turns to a double-page spread of Walden Pond during the day—equally serene—with a young, lanky Thoreau—walking stick in hand—gazing across its expanse. Throughout the book, short, positive musings are complemented by equally idyllic artwork, whether Henry is building his cabin, spending time in the pine woods—his “‘best’ room”—or reading by his fireplace while snow gathers outside. Only the least controversial of Walden’s many ideas have been chosen, resulting in a serene tone. The chosen text is poetic—if quaint—and both text and art compel readers to slow down in contemplation. Although the publisher recommends “interest level” for ages nine and up, younger readers will enjoy the language’s rhythm and the soothing art; conversely, older readers will, hopefully, be inspired to read the original. An elegant reminder of solitary pleasure in nature.