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Into the Woods: 10/24/22

Into the Woods

Into the Woods by J. Torres and Faith Erin Hicks (Illustrator) (2012) is the start of the Big Foot Boy middle grade graphic novel series. In it, Rufus discovers the Q'achi while lost in the woods behind his grandmother's house. When he says the word sasquatch he turns into one, or as he calls himself, Big Foot Boy.

I originally read this book when it was newly published in 2012. I was on the Cybils committee for graphic novels that year and it was one of the nominees. I had decided to hold off on reviewing what I read until after the short list was released and never copied my notes into the application where I write my reviews. Only in re-reading the book did I find my initial notes. I'm including them below:

Wonderful Canadian tween graphic novel about a boy who discovers a sasquatch totem and becomes big foot boy. He's half first nation and befriends a first nations girl who has a skunk spirit guide. It just feels genuinely Canadian without being moralistic.

In re-reading it now with the benefit of having read the entire trilogy, I can see that it's environmentally focused and prescient for the present day practice of first nations land being leased to developers, rather than just outright taken. This trilogy covers the pushback against the deforestation that comes with careless development.

Mostly, though, this volume is here to set up the world and introduce the characters. We have Rufus, the boy who is visiting his grandmother while his parents work through a rough patch. We have his grandmother, aunt and cousin, Penny.

Penny feels she should be the one guarding and wielding the totem. It's her forest and she knows the traditions and stories behind the totem. It's part of her culture in a way that it's not for Rufus, despite his ancestry.

There are also the forest animals whom Rufus can talk to when he's Big Foot Boy. There's a squirrel who acts as his guide, a group of crows who are interested in the totem for their ties to Thunder Bird (see The Unkindness of Ravens (2013). Finally, there are the wolves who could pose a threat, but never seem to reach their potential.

Five stars

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