A Walk in the Woods
Author: Nikki Grimes
Illustrator: Jerry Pinkney & Brian Pinkney
In this moving account of loss, a boy takes a walk in the woods and makes a discovery that changes his understanding of his father.
A week after the funeral
I stare in the morning mirror
Angry that my father’s eyes
Stare back at me.
Confused and distraught after the death of his father, a boy opens an envelope he left behind and is surprised to find a map of the woods beyond their house, with one spot marked in bright red. But why? The woods had been something they shared together, why would his father want him to go alone?
Slowly, his mind settles as he sets off through the spaces he once explored with his dad, passing familiar beech and black oak trees, flitting Carolina wrens, and a garter snake they named Sal. When he reaches the spot marked on the map, he finds pages upon pages of drawings of woodland creatures, made by his father when he was his age. What he sees shows him a side of his dad he never knew, and something even deeper for them to share together. His dad knew what he really needed was a walk in the woods.
New York Times bestselling author Nikki Grimes and the Caldecott Award winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney spent the early days of the pandemic emailing back and forth and talking about collaborating on a book, with Jerry sharing all of the pictures he took of the woods around his house. From this, they conjured a story of a boy’s struggle with grief, and all the things he sees and feels on a walk through the forest.
Jerry sadly passed away in the fall of 2021, but not before he delivered tight pencil sketches of the forests he loved. When his son Brian took on the task of completing the illustrations, he found himself connecting with his father in a whole new way, his experience mirroring that of the boy in the book. The result is a simultaneously touching and deeply authentic story about the ways shared pastimes keep us close to those we’ve lost.