Review Blog

Jul 11 2012

The magnificent tree by Nick Bland and Stephen Michael King

cover image

Scholastic, 2012. ISBN 9781 74283 295 1.
(Ages 5+) Recommended. Picture book. Simplicity.
Pop and Bonny are always making things for each other. Designing and inventing is the way Pop works out things, while Bonny prefers a more hands on, earthy way to work. Consequently, Bonny makes a recycled paper card for her Pop, whereas Pop, wanting to fly, spends many hours planning, designing and then making a contraption to help him achieve that aim, with disastrous consequences.
When both notice that the birds have nowhere to perch, Bonny suggests they need a tree and the two go about their quest for a tree in stunningly different ways. Pop again plans and designs and eventually builds a mechanical tree, while Bonny simply plants a seed. Pop's finished product looks like a tree, but its mechanical branches and discordant and pointy leaves, do not allow the birds a quiet restful place to perch. Bonny's tree on the other hand is just what the birds need and so they take to it without hesitation, while Bonny finds a use for Pop's tree.
There are a number of picture books at the moment about invention and using imagination. Frank n Stan (Robertson) and The terrible suitcase (Emma Allen) for example intrigue the reading audience with inventions such as the mechanical man (Frank) in the first and the rocket ship in the latter. The magnificent tree, is another showing imagination being used for the same end but in entirely different ways. Pop's mechanical tree, despite all his work, invention and design, simply does not fit the bill, whereas Bonny's simple idea of planting a tree suits the purpose. Reiterating this lovely story the illustrations make clear the conservation message, reinforcing the idea that simple is best, and strengthening the dialogue between the generations. Readers will love Pop's stubbly chin and various hats, while watching out for Bonny's exuberant face, and I can imagine many will clamour to make the mechanical tree or at least a like version, at the end of the story.
Fran Knight

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