Review Blog

Dec 03 2012

Tanglewood by Margaret Wild

cover image

Ill. by Vivienne Goodman. Scholastic, 2012. ISBN 978
Highly recommended. Picture book. Environment. Friendship. I found myself gulping back tears from page one as we hear of a tree, Tanglewood, alone on an island in the middle of nowhere. Dolphins swim by, debris washes up on the beach, clouds pass overhead, but Tanglewood remains all alone.
Vivienne Goodman's intense and meticulous illustrations stir the imagination from the start as we see shells, leaves, bones on the beach, the roots of the tree clinging to its solitary existence, seals swimming by, and large sweeps of spectacular blue sky overhead.
From the double page panoramas of the island and the clouds and then the stormy seas, we turn the page, to find quietness after the storm, a rainbow has appeared, and into the tree, a seagull has fallen.
Tanglewood shelters the gull as it rests after the melee, hoping it will stay, but it cannot. It needs to return to its family a concept it must explain to the tree. It belongs to the sky and its companions, but in leaving promises to return.
Tanglewood keeps itself ready for the gull's return, and we see the breadth of the seasons come and go as Goodman renders a series of illustrations clustered together like pages in a photograph album, reinforcing the image of time passing.
The words and images in this incredible book overwhelm the senses as the loneliness of the tree is portrayed. Readers and listeners alike will feel joy at the last few pages as the tree's loneliness is resolved and the gulls do something for the tree. The warmth of giving, of family, of togetherness is redolent throughout, making this book a wonderful adjunct to a class's discussions about family. For older students discussions around technique of both author and illustrator would do no better than having this book as their guide. But for anyone wanting a quiet few moments of reflection then this book will reward its readers over and over again.
And what a pleasure to see Vivienne Goodman's distinctive, intelligent illustrations again.
Fran Knight

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