Despite my best efforts, I really didn’t like Once in a Forest by Adriana Pernetz. With the message she was trying to send, that differences should not prevent friendships, I really wanted to like this book. In fact, I’m a pretty strong believer of the idea that children’s books should have a purpose further than just being ridiculous and I requested this one specifically on NetGalley because of the message the author was trying to send. But I feel as though the message was never really portrayed enough for a child to see it and even I found that it required a lot of reading between the lines for me to see it. And while the message is good and one that I strongly believe in, I just don’t think this book really did its best job in portraying it.
To begin, the story is incredibly simple and merely follows the tale of a bear and a duck who become friends. Duck visits bear’s home and bear’s mother welcomes duck with open arms. It was sweet, but it didn’t really derive from anything else. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the artwork, which was choppy at best at times and just didn’t keep my attention. Perhaps a young kid would enjoy it a lot more, but it certainly wasn’t for me. And I think the most important piece, at the end of the day, is the simple fact that if I were looking for a book to buy my niece or even my own child that was specifically about diversity and accepting others differences and building amazing friendships because of that, I would not be getting this one. I would be looking for a superior one that does a better job of sending that message.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.