Book Reviews

So many books. So little time.

Where Once there Was A Wood by Denise Fleming

Where once there was…Once is the key word

"Where once there was a wood
a meadow
and a creek…
sit houses side by side
twenty houses deep."

A beautiful one-line poem (the line broken up over several pages) takes the reader from the original habitat and inhabitants, to its evolution into an urban landscape where "sit houses side by side/ twenty houses deep."

The pleasure of the book is in the quiet but gorgeously colored illustrations with colors appropriate to each habitat. The inhabitants almost blend into the background—readers will enjoy searching for the creatures named on the page. Look, the author seems to say, they are so well adapted to their environment.

There is no judgement here; just a statement of what was, and what is now. The story/poem stands on its own merits.

Denise Fleming makes the book richer with the detailed back matter information.

"We can provide new homes for wild creatures by creating wildlife habitats in our backyards, school yards, and community spaces," the author writes. "Wild creatures have four basic needs: space, shelter, water and food." Then she goes on to talk of each of the four needs, and how to fulfill them.

Deeply satisfying—a book that would enrich all schools and libraries.

Title: Where Once There Was A Wood

Author: Denise Fleming

Illustrator: Denise Fleming

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Hardback: 36 pages

ISBN: 0-8050-3761-6