THE HIKE, by Alison Farrell, is a delightful book that celebrates children love of nature. It highlights the importance of looking for beauty in the smallest object and teaching children how to create their own records of their hiking adventures, through nature journaling.
The illustrations are simple, playful, childlike, bold, colourful and above all very fun! I love the fact Farrell uses coloured pencil throughout, drawing in the same way as children would and seamlessly moving between hiking images and actual examples of the children’s journaling pages! The illustrations also act as non-fiction diagrams, labelled with significant objects like photographs in a textbook. This is done in a playful way, for example, I loved the inclusion of labels such as ‘fairy ring mushrooms’ and ‘porcupine quills,’ which is just what a child would take note of and not just factual flora and fauna names!
The text is sparse and simple. Sentences are short and packed with onomatopoeia which makes it enjoyable to read aloud and adds texture to the story too. Speech bubbles keep this non-fiction book light and accessible. And the addition of images of journal pages where the characters have drawn nature-based activities adds yet another layer to this already delightful book. With many of the images, we see both above and below the ground, showcasing a whole world of life and adventure going on around the children as they hike through the forest.
I love how the children are given, freedom, autonomy and intelligence in the story. They navigate their way by themselves, map reading, using a compass and working as a team to find the right path when they are lost. The book shouts of independence, bravery, confidence and adventure. It is everything we hope our children’s childhoods can be, yet we are often afraid to let them explore the world, make mistakes and forge their own paths without holding their hands. This book is a great lesson to parents as well as children in learning to let them find their own paths and for kids it is an empowering look at independence and the great adventures life has in store for them if they are brave enough!
I love the final pages where children can explore the journal pages and learn all about nurse trees, moon phases and edible plants – its right up my street of teaching children that nature is forever giving to us and we should embrace it with open arms and a big thank you.
Highly recommend this book for any nature lovers, walkers, sketchers or explorers out there – a truly delightful book filled with heart and hope for children well connected to the world in which they live! It would make a beautiful gift or addition to any primary classroom or preschool library.