Growing up I had many favorite books, but the one book that really stands out in my memory is Where the Forest Meets the Sea, by Jeannie Baker.
That book was the best!
This book, which uses collages to illustrate, is about a boy and his father who go to a place they “can only reach by boat.” When they get there, his father tells him there has been a forest there for over a hundred million years. As the boy explores, he pretends it is a hundred million years ago. He walks about the forest and comes across an ancient, hollowed out tree. He hides inside of it and wonders if “aboriginal forest children” may have played there also. If you look closely at the collage, you’ll see two children climbing among the vines of the tree.
Baker uses multi-media relief collages to illustrate her story.
The pictures are very clever with semi-transparent dinosaurs superimposed over the forest as the boy wanders down a small river, a mix of what the forest looked like then, and what it looks like now. The detail in each collage is beautiful, and I loved poring over them as a kid, seeing if I could find any more items hidden within. It showed a beautiful place, like none I had ever seen before. The boy sits in the forest and is quiet. He walks along a stream. He gets to climb around tree trunks. And then he finds his way back to his father by following the sound of the sea. He had complete freedom in this story, and I wanted to explore with him!
As the story ends,
“My father says we’ll come here again someday,”
the boy and his father eat the fish his father caught and there is another dinosaur in the distance. Then, on the final two-page spread of the story, Baker ends with,
“But will the forest still be here when we come back?”
This time her collage shows more of the beaches, and now you see a giant hotel, phone towers, highways, boats, and a swimming pool with a TV set where there was once pristine beaches. There are even jeeps and sunbathers all over. It’s a stark contrast to the space as the reader first sees it.
I remember being dumbfounded at how anyone could want to build all that stuff and ruin the rainforest!
With environmental issues being more important now than ever, getting kids to understand some of the ramifications of development is important. Instilling in kids a sort of awe about nature is also important. This book does both without being heavy-handed. It’s a simple story that shows how the world can change drastically, and not always for the better.
he last page of this book explains that this place, where the forest does meet the sea, is real, and it’s the Daintree Wilderness in Australia. At the publication of this book in 1987, the Daintree Wilderness had “only 296,000 acres of wet tropical rain forest wilderness that meet the ocean waters of the Great Barrier Reef.” It is, luckily, still the largest, pristine rainforest in Australia.
Baker states, “The place, the people, and the predicament are real.” I poked around the internet to see if the Daintree Wilderness had been developed. I wanted to know!
Baker wasn’t kidding when she said the predicament was real.
According to rainforesttrust.org, a developer in the mid-1980’s got approval to develop the Daintree Rainforest into a series of housing estates. This was opposed (thank goodness!) but the land is all privately owned, so the Rainforest Trust is working to purchase and protect more land to expand the rainforest. Let’s hope they succeed!
I LOVED THIS BOOK AS A KID BECAUSE IT WASN’T TOO LONG, AND THE COLLAGES DREW ME IN.
I LOVE THIS BOOK AS AN ADULT BECAUSE KIDS ARE THE FUTURE, AND IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO GET THEM THINKING ABOUT HOW WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD FOR THE BETTER.
Pick up a copy using this link, and we make pennies!