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Molly Burke.
Illustrations by Gerda Neubacher.

Burlington (ON), Hayes Publishing, c1983.
unpaged, paperbound boards, $9.95.
ISBN 0-88625-044-7.

Pre-School-Grade 3.
Reviewed by Nancy E. Black.

Volume 12 Number 2
1984 March

Tales from the Beechy Woods might well be described as one of those books that some adults perceive as being the perfect children's story. Intended by the author to introduce children to woodland animals, it in fact presents a few inaccuracies about forest life. Do pigeons roost in pine trees? Does hay grow in the forest? According to this book, yes, but perhaps only because "hay" rhymes with "today."

The story is told in four-line rhyming verses. To get a more realistic sense of the sound of the rhyme and rhythm, this reviewer read the story aloud only to discover that a little alliteration can be a dangerous thing:

         Burr and Bamber turned to Barba
         With expressions of dismay.

As well, the verses are awkward and forced, turning what might be a story into trite chatter:

         "Oh!" she sighed. "I feel so happy,
         Everything is green and gold.
         Yesterday I was a baby,
         But today I'm one year old.

         "I am still a tiny Rabbit
         But, from this morning on,
         I am old enough to wander
         In the Beechy Wood alone!"

The illustrations, for the most part are delightful, colourful, and clear presentations of the action. At times, the animals are reminiscent of Walt Disney's Bambi. The artist seems to have particular problems with Horace Hedgehog, (the more familiar word porcupine is not used in this story), who looks very much out of place as a prickly piglet.

If this book is seen by potential buyers, they should not be fooled by the glossy, professional production, it is definitely not recommended.

Nancy E, Black, Dartmouth R. L., Dartmouth, NS.
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