Great North Woods, The

The Great North Woods

Brian Heinz (Author)

Michael Rothman (Illustrator)

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In the northeastern region known as the Great North Woods, day dawns with quivering aspens, waters teem with life, forests prowl with predators, and nature is celebrated in rhyme.

Reviews

Budding naturalists will find much to pore over in this attractive picture book. Rhyming text guides the reader from dawn to nightfall in the Great North Woods, an area described on the dust jacket as "a vast habitat of boreal forest that extends from the eastern Great Lakes, across four northeastern states, and continues into the Canadian province of Quebec." Dramatic acrylic paintings dominate each double-page spread. These are not still lifes, but powerful portraits full of energy and movement. The palette of blues, browns, and greens is sometimes broken up by a dash of red as a fox slinks across a moonlit forest floor, or the purple of a swamp thistle. The illustrations are captioned, but often the text is too small to stand out against the page or is simply dwarfed by the paintings. Although young researchers will have to look elsewhere for substantive information about the Great North Woods, the high visual content makes this an excellent book for browsing, allow a peek into a unique ecosystem.

–Kara Dean, Booklist , 10/1/2016

Rothman's detailed, realistic, full-bleed acrylic paintings dominate this survey of animal and plant life in the vast area of boreal forest that extends from the eastern Great Lakes across the northeastern U.S. into Quebec. The book is divided into five sections describing the varying habitats of this territory at different times of the day. The paintings provide a minutely observed and scientifically accurate view of the widely varying ecosystems and habitats of both familiar and less well-known species: fish including longnose gar, walleye, and bullhead; mammals including moose, bobcat, star-nosed mole, porcupine, and flying squirrel; birds including owl, raven, and grouse; and trees and plants such as the pitcher plant. The text is composed of couplets and quatrains of occasionally awkward rhyming verse, which sometimes disconcertingly describes animals and events not pictured. Small italicized headings helpfull identify the species featured on each page, although a larger, roman typeface would have aided legibility, and a straightforward prose narrative would better complement the detailed scientific illustrations. In spite of textual shortcomings, this book provides a worthy introduction to an awe-inspiring geographic area that will be unfamiliar to many and may encourage some to get outside and enjoy the woods.

–Vicky Smith, Kirkus Reviews , 8/1/2016

This lyrical introduction to the Great North Woods begins at dawn and continues into night. Rhyming poetry invites readers into the environment, where "aspens quiver." Word selection and art work together, evoking movement while identifying characteristics of flora and fauna. For instance, wolves have "bristling fur and panting mouths" as they trot south, the intent look on their faces indicating they are stalking prey. Many of the acrylic paintings are featured in full spreads, the palette shifting from warm, bright hues to cool tones as the day cedes to dusk. The nocturnal scenes are particularly eye-catching, capturing a rare tonal quality of night while providing enough light to view the dynamics of nighttime critters. Although this title is geared toward a younger audience, Heinz doesn't shy away from the reality of nature and uses alliteration to accentuate those moments, for example, "crayfish crunch" for a raccoon's late-night snack. Italicized text, offset in minuscule labels, offers minimal description of some of the wildlife on each page but not enough for true informational purposes. Clearly meant as a general introduction to a boreal forest, this is a work to savor for its lavish art and enticing verse. A stirring informational picture book for sharing aloud, this is especially a winner for libraries surrounding the Great Lakes and in the northeastern United States up through Quebec.

–Rachel Zuffa, School Library Journal , 9/1/2016

It is dawn in the north woods, and the sun is beginning to warm the ground, the plants, and the animals. Bumblebees get to work collecting nectar, a bobcat grooms its fur as it lies in its lair, and the great gray owl folds its banded wings. Water plays a big role in the north woods, where there are lakes and ponds everywhere. Here loons "trill," herons "stab" at polliwogs and other creatures, and ducks "tip their bottoms" up into the air as they search for food underwater. Under the surface, all kinds of animals swim around, and the fish, in particular gar, walleyes, salmon, and trout, bring anglers to the region "from near and far." Among the trees in the forests, a pack of wolves is on the move. A young moose hears the clan "on the hunt," and he takes refuge in a lake, turning to face his foes with his small rack at the ready. At night, the sun-dappled ground is replaced by moon shadows, and raccoons, voles, owls, moles, deer, and foxes are out and about. Predators seek and prey hide. In this stunning book, a luscious, rhyming text is paired with beautiful, annotated artwork to give young readers a taste of what a north woods environment is like. They will "meet" all kinds of animals and get a sense of how special the north woods are.

–Marya Jansen-Gruber, Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews , 1/1/2017