The Haunted Forest
G. Warren Schloat Jr. ~ Alfred A. Knopf, 1961
Most of the time in children's books, a warning is given ~ "Don't go into the woods/haunted forest/forbidden place, or you'll be sorry" ~ and some curious kid doesn't heed the words and ends up in heaps of trouble. Morality tales for the ages meant to scare children into listening to their parents. In this case, you have a story of a path always assumed as horrible that ends up being the most magical, mystical place in the whole universe... making me think the moral is, if your parents think it's bad for you, it probably involves ice cream and toys and awesome stuff and fun talking trees. A logic I can't say I completely disagree with.
The path straight ahead went through the Haunted Forest. This was the short-cut to Grandfather's house. The path to the left went around the forest. This was the long way to Grandfather's house. Andy had stood at this fork in the path many times. And he always decided to go the long way around. Today, he hummed to himself as he wondered which path to take. Then he said, "I'll go the long way, again!"
Always one to do what's right, Andy heads on the straight and narrow only to get waylaid by a shiny new basketball bouncing from the deep, dark and spooky forest. What boy can resist a shiny new ball, right? Well, he soon discovers that within the canopy of gloom there are trees to play ball with and telephone calls to receive and ice cream cones growing from branches and others that sprout marbles and musical instruments and bubbles that soar you high into the air and talking birds and gifts, gifts and more gifts. Makes me think perhaps taking a short cut every now and again isn't such a bad idea.
Schloat was an animator for Disney back in the day on both Snow White and Dumbo, and though the drawings in this book are rather crude, they shows a real eye for cinematic whimsy and the fantastical. Makes me once again wish for a time machine. All those creative minds from that era must've really had some stories to tell.
I know I promised spooky stuff this week, but shoot, it's already started off as a happy fun time. Just when you think you are headed one place, you end up someplace else entirely. Interesting.