CM Magazine: The Golden Glow.
________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 24. . . .February 23, 2018


The Golden Glow.

Benjamin Flouw. Translated by Christelle & Susan Ouriou.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, May, 2018.
48 pp., hardcover & EPUB, $21.00 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7352-6412-0 (hc.), ISBN 978-0-7352-6413-7 (EPUB).

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

*** /4

Reviewed from F&Gs.



The story of The Golden Glow concerns Fox, who is a botanist on the hunt for the rare plant of the title. In his field guide, Fox finds a page lacking an illustration where he reads:

"The golden glow is a plant from the Wellhidden family.
It is very rare and only grows high in the mountains."
"This sounds like a fabulously fascinating flower!
Tomorrow, I'm off to the mountains in search of it," [says Fox].
      Encounters with friends Bear and then Wolf lead Fox to Marmot who is reputed to know something about the golden glow. Marmot directs Fox to climb the mountain all the way to the top. Fox is almost there when he meets Mountain Goat (who is standing on a boulder reading a book called 'Escalade', meaning 'scale', as in 'climb' - a nice touch). Mountain Goat is skeptical that any plant could be growing any higher up than where they are at that point but offers Fox his walking stick anyway to help him attain the summit.

      Fox is entranced by the view once he reaches the top of the mountain but sees nothing but rocks and snow. He pitches his tent and sits down to enjoy the evening.

      I thought the punch line was going to be that the 'golden glow' was the glorious sunset that Fox is able to see from so high a vantage point, as it does indeed cast a golden glow. But no, there is one small plant specimen to be found away up here.
Hidden under the snow is a fabulously fascinating flower.
It must be the golden glow! Just as he bends over to pick the flower
Fox changes his mind. This golden glow is more beautiful here on
the mountaintop than it ever would be in a vase in his living room.
      Instead, Fox makes some meticulously-detailed drawing of the flower and, after a night in camp, retraces his steps to his little home. There he adds the pictures of the golden glow to his field guide which, until then, had only offered words to describe this "fabulously fascinating flower".

      Fox and his animal friends are rendered in almost human form, their blocky figures dressed in bright anoraks, stripy t-shirts and fishermen’s vests. The palette is a rich, warm one, the scenes of the outdoors inviting. I especially liked the spreads in which the illustrations enumerate the contents of Fox’s backpack as he assembles things for his expedition; the botanical specimens he sees along the way; and the map showing his route which includes the elevations of the various zones, from the foothill zone through the montane, subalpine and alpine zones to the snow zone.

      Although The Golden Glow is fiction, there is some informational content included as well as a gentle nod to the idea of conservation. Golden Glow was originally published in France by publisher La Pasteque as La Milleclat Dore.


Ellen Heaney, a retired children's librarian, lives in Coquitlam, BC.

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