Nadine Robert’s Clover, originally published in French, and translated into English by Catherine Ostiguy and Nick Frost, is set in a bustling rural farm nestled along the forest and mountain range. Bright-eyed Clover, who must decide how to spend her day, is overwhelmed by all the choices. From picking mushrooms to catching frogs, there’s so much to do and so little time. As she hesitantly strays from her family’s goat farm and winds up lost, Clover’s journey teaches young readers the importance of decision-making and intuition.
Clover’s lush, green imagery and warm, earth-tone watercolours reflect the Quebec countryside. Qin Leng makes generous use of vibrant full-page illustrations – pine trees lined with black ink cover Clover’s expansive world – and Clover’s smallness on each page emphasizes how limitless the world feels to a child. Her journey into the forest, in particular, is a marvel: orange mushrooms, purple forget-me-nots, and olive lily pads hide beneath the canopy like visual Easter eggs.
Robert writes in short, simple-to-follow sentences, juxtaposing Clover’s hesitation to answer the question “What will I do today?” against Leng’s lavish imagery. Robert invites readers to accompany young Clover in the decision-making process as she discovers the magic of intuition. Her inner thoughts are easily distinguishable through the use of italics, and directly convey the struggle she experiences when her goat, Peony, sneaks away to explore the forest. As she trails behind Peony, Clover quickly realizes she must learn how to make decisions if she wants to find her beloved friend.
At the end of Robert’s tale, readers will find a heartwarming lesson about intuition and trust in family. While the story urges readers to develop critical thinking when it comes to decision-making, Clover also learns that intuition comes from within: her bravery leads her to follow Peony, who is likewise lost and looking for her. Although it can be hard to know when you’ve made the right decision, in Clover a loving family will always be there, no matter what.