Saturday, October 10, 2020

Review - The Three Brothers

The Three Brothers

by Marie-Louise Gay
Date: 2020
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

Finn and his younger brothers, Leo and Ooley, love reading stories about animals living in forests, on mountains or in the arctic.

“When I grow up,” says Finn, “I want to be an explorer and travel around the world. I want to see wild animals and strange birds.”

“Why wait?” asks Leo.

And so, the next morning, they wake up early and set out on a snowy expedition to search for wild animals. In their grandfather’s time, the forest was full of animals — but today the forest is quiet. Where have the animals gone?

This gentle adventure story about the effects of climate change ends on a hopeful note.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

The illustrations in this book are cute, but the story itself leaves something to be desired.

Three brothers read stories about the wilderness. They decide to go on an expedition to see some animals near their home. But they don't see any, and conclude it's because of climate change. So they build some snow versions of animals and then go home.

The environmental message seems really shoehorned into the story. It doesn't even make much sense in this context. The boys' grandfather has told them that there are no longer animals in the woods because of climate change. They lament the changes in the weather and talk about how people are trying to fix the problem. (This alone could cause some worry in anxious children, given how vague the statements are.) But Grandpa seems to be full of it. The woods are full of birds, so it's not a desolate wasteland. And the story even ends with a fox approaching his snowy doppelganger after the boys have left... so obviously the animals were simply hiding from the boys. Making them believe that they're on the verge of some ecological apocalypse (when they're not) seems like a pretty crappy thing to do. I don't know if I'd let Grandpa around the kids anymore...

Like I said at the beginning of the review, the pictures are lovely. I don't have any complaints there. But the story is weak (where are the boys' parents, for one thing, and why are they allowed to go traipsing through five-foot-high snow with nothing but pie plates strapped to their feet?) and the environmental message's inclusion doesn't feel very organic.

Overall, I don't think I'd recommend this one. The message is potentially confusing and worrying (and, really, doesn't even need to be there).

Premise: 1/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.33 out of 5

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