A Hike Before Breakfast

h1 March 12th, 2020 by jules


It’s early morning in suburbia. Father and child wake, pack the jeep, and head to the mountains. They hike, explore nature, play, snack, mountain-climb, and even plant a tree. When they’re done, they record it all in the family photo album. This is the story of Pete Oswald’s Hike (Candlewick, March 2020), and it’s a (mostly) wordless ode to not only the outdoors but to the parent-child bond.

What I especially love is how Oswald paces this story. It’s a picture book that breathes. So much happens in a book with a plot that takes a quick moment to summarize (“parent and child hike outdoors”). There are tiny, beautiful moments (spotting a ladybug, a snowball fight, stopping for trail mix after a brave trek across a fallen tree that is suspended above water); there are breathtaking sights (a tall waterfall and the impressive vista after their arduous climb, pictured below); and, my favorite, an illustration toward the book’s close of father and child as seen in the jeep’s rear-view mirror. Their eyes meet, and they smile, having had a joyful, meaningful experience outdoors together. It’s paced perfectly with the use of smaller vignettes, some paneled art, and full bleed spreads that feature big, green views of nature (such as one in which we get an aerial view of the duo walking on a trail, complete with a fox on the verso). It’s a book to read slowly — and read repeatedly.

And how about that impressive cover design?

Below are some of Oswald’s early sketches for the book (I thank him for sharing), as well as some final illustrations.



Some Early Sketches:






Some Final Art:



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


(Click spread to enlarge)



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


(Click cover to enlarge)


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HIKE. Copyright © 2020 by Pete Oswald. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA. All other images reproduced by permission of Pete Oswald.

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