The Golden Glow

One evening while he's flipping through his old botany books, plant collector Fox finds something mysterious: a page with text but no illustration. "The golden glow is a plant from the Wellhidden family," the book says. "It is very rare and only grows high in the mountains." That's all Fox needs to hear. The next morning, he sets off with his backpack, a search party of one.

On his way up the mountain, Fox runs into Bear, Wolf and other woodland animals who offer help or advice. When he finally reaches the mountain's summit, he's disappointed to see no flowers. But after he sets up camp and sits down to enjoy the sunset, he finds, buried in the snow....

Young readers know the score: in a kids' book about a search, the elusive object is always found. What will surprise them is what Fox does when he finds it: instead of picking the flower, he draws a picture of it, realizing that "this golden glow is more beautiful here on the mountaintop than it ever would be in a vase in his living room."

The Golden Glow's eco-friendly message doesn't seem a whit heavy-handed because the art goes down so easy. Benjamin Flouw's talent is fusing handpainted, textured cut-paper shapes and digital paintings into visually rewarding combinations. His debut also features themed two-page spreads presenting labeled objects: the contents of Fox's backpack, trees that he identifies on his journey and flowers that he recognizes. They're like pages from the world's snazziest field guide. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

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