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Where Once There Was a Wood
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About the Author

Denise Fleming has written and illustrated many children's books, including In the Tall, Tall Grass, Shout! Shout It Out!, and Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy. She won a Caldecott Honor for In the Small, Small Pond. Denise published her first painting in the third grade, when she started taking classes at the Toledo Museum of Art and one of her paintings was chosen to be the cover of a teacher's magazine. She now works primarily with paper, by pouring colored paper pulp through hand-cut stencils. She lives in Toledo, Ohio.

Reviews

PreS-Gr 2‘Fleming's unique illustrative style provides an exciting backdrop to this distinctive, environmental picture book. The simple, hand-lettered text introduces the wild creatures and plants that once thrived in a wooded area, before their displacement by a housing development. Art, text, and design are creatively matched. Lush, textured collage artwork features a stunning combination and arrangement of colors with brilliant hues juxtaposed against muted earth tones. It is remarkable that the gentle, poetic narration is never overpowered by the pictures. Instead, a graceful rhythm is established as the natural habitats are explored. The tempo accelerates when animals are observed in action. The final two pages provide a dramatic conclusion as the text switches from free-flowing to deliberate. The illustrations change as well, presenting a sharp contrast between the beauty of the natural habitat and the stark symmetry of roof lines and window frames. Suggestions for creating backyard habitats and brief directions for establishing butterfly and hummingbird gardens are appended, along with information about the National Wildlife Federation and a list of related books. A book to be shared with and enjoyed by a wide audience.‘Sarabeth Kalajian, Venice Public Library, FL

This ardent plea for the conservation of wildlife habitats contains some of Fleming's (In the Small, Small Pond; Lunch, see p. 70) most accomplished artwork ever. Her paintings, composed of richly dyed and textured cotton rag fiber, sustain an emotional but controlled intensity. Through a combination of earthy browns and grays, occasionally splashed with bold yellow, red and blue, Fleming depicts a graceful natural world that she fears is disappearing. In the form of a single brief verse, she accompanies her art with a chronicle of creatures displaced by a newly erected housing development, "where once the heron fished/ and speared his glittering food.../ sit houses side by side/ twenty houses deep." Four well-designed pages follow the text with specific, practical suggestions about how communities and and individuals can help "welcome wildlife" to a backyard habitat. Addresses for further information and useful, anecdotal hints are also included. A beautiful call to action. Ages 5-10. (Apr.)

"Fleming's unique illustrative style provides an exciting backdrop to this distinctive, environmental picture book." --School Library Journal"Contains some of Fleming's most accomplished work ever. A beautiful call to arms." --Publisher's Weekly"A book that's as welcome as spring." --Kirkus Reviews

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