September 18, 2020

The Three Brothers

Written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Groundwood Books
40 pp.
Ages 4-8
September 2020
There's something magical about going on an adventure. It's looking for the amazing and finding it. For the three little boys in The Three Brothers, the adventure is all the more wonderful for being together. 
From The Three Brothers by Marie-Louise Gay
Three brothers–Finn, Leo and Ooley–enjoy their nightly adventure stories about animals in forests and other wild areas, and decide to go on their own expedition the next morning. After careful preparations that include warm clothes–Ooley wears his bear suit–lunches, binoculars and a compass, they discover a thick blanket of fresh snow, and add pie plates to their boots as snowshoes.

From The Three Brothers by Marie-Louise Gay
Though they see a few birds, they are desperate to see some animals i.e., mammals, and anticipate what every noise might mean.
The forest was still and empty. You could almost hear a snowflake fall.
"I thought I heard a growl," said Finn, "...or a howl...I know there are some animals around. I can almost see them. Can't you?"
As they ponder where the animals might be, the older and wiser Finn recalls their grandfather's words about how the weather may be forcing the animals to leave to find food and water, and Finn and Leo discuss those taking action against climate change, without ever using words like global warming or climate. 

After losing Ooley and discovering him in a hollowed-out tree trunk, the three boys find a creative way to experience the absentee animals by putting their maker hands and piles of snow to work.

From The Three Brothers by Marie-Louise Gay

Marie-Louise Gay, creator of Stella and Sam, has always brought the wonder of children and their imaginations to her picture books. It's the wonder of what might be, what is, and what it might mean. It's seeing with open eyes and hearts and witnessing the miracles of the world. These little boys imagine the animals that might be lurking, even when only reading the stories and visualizing a bear, or a wolf, or a raccoon also listening to the story. In the woods, Marie-Louise Gay adds white outlines of creatures like deer, porcupine and bear watching the children amidst the colour of their reality. The landscapes of these children are a dreamy blend of home and the imaginary and all the richer for having both. (There is a surprise at the end as the two worlds meet.)

Marie-Louise Gay's illustrations, which have garnered her numerous awards including several Governor General's Literary Awards, blends watercolour paint with pencil, coloured pencils, water-soluble wax crayons and opaque white ink to create the evocative art of The Three Brothers. Her media and artistry conjure the inquisitiveness of children, light and detailed, colourful and full. There is happiness and watchfulness about the world and themselves that reassures. I feel joyful from the three brothers' imaginative play and closeness, and look forward to a snowy day when all children may seek out their own adventures.

From The Three Brothers by Marie-Louise Gay

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