Book Review: Take A Beautiful Hike with Pete Oswald


I’m so grateful that Roger Sutton, Editor in Chief of the The Horn Book, mentioned Hike by Pete Oswald (Candlewick Press, 03/2020) his August 6th post because it was totally off my radar.  I agree with Roger that Hike (isn’t the cover so clever?!) should have been among the 2020 books to receive one of the American Library Association’s honors.

You may be familiar with Pete Oswald’s illustrations from several of Jory John’s picture books, including The Good Egg, a #1 New York Times bestseller.  Hike is his solo author/illustrator debut, and I think it is outstanding!

Told through pictures, Hike is the story of a father and child taking a spring hiking trip into the mountains.  Everything is fresh and new, and you can literally feel the father and child breathing it in.  The gender of the child is left open in this story to make it more inclusive.  As Pete Oswald said in an interview with Publishers Weekly, he wanted a story that anybody could relate to.  I love that.

The few words in the book are only used to express sound, like “click” when the child snaps on a backpack or “munch” when they share some trail mix, making this a book that even very young children can read without any help!

You don’t find out the mission of the hike until the end (no, I’m not giving it away!), but the journey is stunning.  In route to their destination, the father and child take their time to live in the moment – stopping to appreciate all the sights and sounds of nature, having a snowball fight, facing various challenges together, and celebrating small victories.

Max and Leon Take a Hike
Max and Leon are ready for a Hike!

The love they have for each other, for their mission, and for the beauty of the world around them radiates off the pages.  And isn’t it the journey – the time together, the memories made – which is truly important?

Hike is a perfect example of this year’s Earth Day theme, Restore Our Earth.  Check out this picture book for some much needed restorative beauty!

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