Reviewed by Magdalena Ball
All in the Woods
written by JR Poulter
Illustrations by Linda Gunn
2011, ISBN 978-0-9560363-5-3, 1 Aug 2011
JR Poulter has a canny knack of being able to tease out the subtleties of character and human relationships in her books. Her new children’s book All in the Woods follows the development of young Pete, who has just moved with his family to a woodland reserve on the edge of his grandpa’s farm. Grandpa is now in a retirement home. But one day while Dad is reminiscing about his boyhood, Pete notices a furry hand pop out and steal a discarded chip. After that nothing is the same for Pete, especially after and his busybody neighbour Mrs Allan decides to take some notice.
Linda Gunn’s water colour images combine perfectly with Poulter’s text, using vivid tones to bring to life the woodland environment and the relationship between Pete and his new pet, as well as Pete and his grandfather. Though the book is never didactic, moving forward in Pete’s perspective through discovery, the underlying themes are positive ones. The book touches on such things as life after retirement, on the dangers of making snap judgements based on appearances, and on learning to keep an open mind and heart. Above all this is a beautifully written heart-warming tale that will appeal to children and adults alike as they discover Pete’s secret.
About the reviewer: Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. She is the author of the poetry book Repulsion Thrust, the novel Sleep Before Evening, a nonfiction book, The Art of Assessment, Quark Soup, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Cherished Pulse , She Wore Emerald Then , ,Imagining the Future, and Deeper Into the Pond.