The joy in discovering that three greats of children's literature--Nikki Grimes, Jerry Pinkney, and Brian Pinkney--collaborated on a picture book is tempered only by the fact that one of them is gone. Jerry Pinkney had created initial sketches for Grimes's tender and evocative picture book text, A Walk in the Woods. Brian Pinkney began to complete the illustrations "just weeks after the passing of my beloved father," by adding watercolors (with a digital assist from his niece, illustrator Charnelle Pinkney Barlow).
As a reminder that life often imitates art, the story is about a boy grieving the death of his father. The child discovers a note his father left for him suggesting he take a walk in the woods to find "treasure." The boy wonders why his father would suggest he go alone: "the woods were our place." To his surprise, the treasure that awaits him is a metal box, filled with "sketches of life on and above the forest floor." The boy realizes that these pieces of art were made by his father when he was the age the boy is now. Though this discovery brings the boy comfort, it is the trek through the woods that provides much-needed peace.
Grimes captures the woods' sensory delights with precision and lyricism: the "explosion of flight" of an eagle spreading its wings; the "quiet" of the woods that console the boy. With each step he takes, "the hurt inside my heart pounds less." To see Jerry's sketches lit by Brian's dazzling colors and swirling lines is wondrous. This exceptional story stands as a moving account of a Black boy finding solace in nature--but also serves as a marvelous tribute to Jerry Pinkney. --Julie Danielson, reviewer and copy editor