3 out of 4 stars
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At the start of Kristen Walton’s Light in the Enchanted Forest, the Butterfly Queen and King welcomes you to the Kingdom, informs you that the forest is ever-changing, and encourages you to let go of your old ways, trust in your higher self, and “get in the flow.” Love, trust, forgiveness, and gratitude are the key lessons underscored throughout this picture book’s gorgeously illustrated pages.
As a whole, the book feels very much like a classic fable, as the struggles of bees, ants, and spiders serve as launching points for reflections on choosing love over judgment, harmony over resistance to change, and self-confidence over fear. Passages are short and there’s a rhyming sequence after every other line that lends the narrative an easy, pleasant flow. Andrew Rodgers’ illustrations are a visual delight, complementing and strengthening the messages the book aims to deliver.
According to the book description, Light in the Enchanted Forest is meant for children and adults alike. While the prose appears simple, the ideas presented may be a bit too philosophical for younger readers. Phrases like “moving out of density and connecting with our light” as well as the idea of breathing in “life force energy” can be difficult for children (or even adults) to grasp. Words such as “perspective,” “positivity,” and “magnitude” may likewise be beyond the comprehension of beginning readers.
The allegorical elements also tend to favor the old versus the young. Characters are confronted with scenarios that would more likely occur in the workplace rather than the home or the playground. The messages imparted, while altogether inspiring and positive, also evoke some questions. For instance, where do we draw the line between “releasing judgment” and advocating passivity? How do we distinguish “resistance to change” and blind obedience to authority? As an inspirational book for adults, the simplicity of the storytelling restricts any deeper exploration of these themes. As a children’s picture book, the maturity of the themes may be a bit daunting and alienating for its target audience.
Light in the Enchanted Forest is undoubtedly sincere, although the attempt to reach to all readers across the board makes the narrative slightly problematic. On the plus side, the book is professionally edited. Because of its length, however, the presence of one error (the use of the adjective “everyday” instead of the adverb “every day”) is hard to overlook.
I rate Light in the Enchanted Forest 3 out of 4 stars. While Walton’s writing may be too abstruse for younger readers, Rodgers’ breathtaking depictions of the forest’s inhabitants — from the forgiving bee, the laboring ants, the sad spider, to the playful aphid — make this picture book an absolute joy to peruse. Mature readers looking to be inspired and renewed will love the book’s brevity. Younger readers, on the other hand, may need guidance and supervision in navigating through this exquisitely rendered (but somewhat baffling) enchanted forest.
Light in the Enchanted Forest
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