Boy in the Oak is a picture book that almost can’t be called a picture book. The story is told in full pages of text which are punctuated by black and which drawings and divided by translucent pieces of coloured, patterned paper. The pages of text are pretty full, I would almost be tempted to say that the book was meant for early readers, but the font is too small. Not your average picture book.
The story is about a young boy who was very rough and mean when he played outside. He would scare the animals in his backyard and do not so nice things like cut trees and pull out plants. The fairies in the area took notice and got so angry at the boy that one day they put a curse on him that trapped him inside an ancient oak tree. His parents went sick with worry and finally moved away when they couldn’t find their little boy anymore. A new couple moved into the house. There were rumours that when it was very windy you could hear a boy crying near the house, but the couple ignored the rumours and moved in with their little daughter. The parents took care of the house and planted new flowers, and though the fairies were cautious of people they liked this. They really liked the daughter though. She was kind to all of the plants and animals and the fairies took note of this and appreciated her, especially in comparison with the mean boy. She fell asleep under the oak one day and because the fairies liked her so much, decided that they would put a spell over her so that she would never wake up and leave them. The boy in the oak over heard this and was outraged. He’d spent so much time in the tree that he had more than learned his lesson and had learned about the fairy’s magic in the process, and he pushed both the girl and himself from the fairies.
The story is well told and unique, but the thing that will set this book a part is the presentation. I wouldn’t personally associate that kind of art with a children’s book. It is somewhat abstract and its displayed in the traditional way picture books associate pictures to text. The two translucent sheets that separate each page of text have nothing to do with the story and are there for a purely ornamental purpose and from my experience that is a little too intellectual for the average 3-5 aged child. I still recommend the book however. As I said the story is pretty good and it might be a fun way to introduce new art forms or storybook formats.
Here is the author’s website http://www.jessicaalbarn.co.uk/index.html. She has some book information and has more artwork on display.