“The Golden Glow” by Benjamin Flouw (translated from French @tundrabooks) is a jewel of a picture book. A simple story line brought to life in strong geometrical strokes and warm colours, packed with facts around hiking and mountaineering and wonderfully colored, it is simply absorbing and perfect for inspiring young nature explorers to observe closely and care deeply about the bigger or tinier plants around them. it didn’t catch on right away; it took little gosling many weeks to get interested in it, but once he did, we read it religiously every night for some time. I am sure we’ll be talking about it a long time during our nature walks and hikes.
Fox goes on a quest to find the “fabulously fascinating flower” that his botany books are unable to reproduce. “A page with no picture”?! he repeats at this point, playfully, with an inquisitive movement of his cute little hand. We watch Fox prepare his hiking gear, setting off before sunrise, observe the well-known trees and mountain flowers and climb up to the very summit of the mountain, the only place where the rare golden glow can be found. There’s some excited fidgeting and bum bouncing and a big smile on little gosling’s face when fox finally sees the flower, and he gently caresses the drawing.
He enjoys guessing and learning the different trees, flowers and hiking equipment drawn explicatively in the book on two-pages spreadsheets. He registered that the spruce cones grow downwards and the larch’s cone is chubby and growing upwards :P. Aaaand, the maple tree “gives us syrup” :)). We pick favourites amongst the mountain flowers and he’s very quizzical about the compass. That’s a rather difficult item to explain in too much detail to a 2 and a half yrs old… He’s impatiently waiting for the marmot and the mountain goat to appear in the story and I bet he wouldn’t mind tasting one of fox’s grape pate sandwich (even though he says he doesn’t like grapes). The book ends with a beautiful message about observing plants in their natural surroundings, where they belong, with Fox drawing the much-awaited flower from all possible angles, instead of taking it home.
I love the little details: fox’s inviting reading corner, in an armchair, by the window, surrounded by plants all around; the mountain goat reading a book while balancing on a rock; the colors of the sunrise and sunset.