There is a lot going on in The Deep Dark Wood where a seemingly unsuspecting little girl ventures one gloomy afternoon. Escorted by none other than the big bad wolf (who appoints himself the girl’s bodyguard… the better to gobble her up later), our red-clad, basket-carrying heroine encounters an assortment of witches, giants and trolls. Will she escape a dire fate thanks to the wolf? And in spite of him?
Algy Craig Hall’s fairy-tale mash-up with a twist has a very real acoustic quality, from the play on fonts that hints at a variety of voices and sound effects, to the general pantomime feel (‘Look! Here comes a sweet little girl… Doesn’t she know it’s DANGEROUS here?’). But The Deep Dark Wood’s real forte is Ali Pye’s illustrations. The eponymous wood is indeed a dark place, but nevertheless, on every page, greens, purples and fuchsias combine to give off an eerie and yet warm atmosphere. The half-guessed figures in the undergrowth, outlined in luminous white, don’t add a sense of threat so much as one of richness and playfulness. Once again, the reader/listener is wordlessy invited to spot the various creatures, to step into the deep, dark, woods, that is, into the story.