Tree: A little story about big things by Danny Parker

cover image

Ill. by Matt Ottley. Little Hare Books, 2012. ISBN 9781921714412.
(Ages: 5+) Recommended. Picture book. Environment. Subtitled 'a little story about big things', this tale will be a boon for those teachers wanting to introduce the topic of environment and sustainability in their classrooms, as it depicts a tree growing within the protective roots of another, which when the older tree is blown down, grows on its own, despite the encroaching city, then nurtures another seedling within its roots. The themes of sustainability, caring for the environment, nurturing the young, sit well with this tree, its rings on the back cover elucidating more of the themes possible in this book. The development of the sapling, growing as each season passes, will intrigue younger readers as they watch its progress to a mighty tree, under which people and animals shelter.
The illustrations are breathtaking. Ottley's tree on the front cover invites the reader into its dense foliage, benignly calls the young reader to climb its roots, and its life as more than a tree is replicated on the back cover's rings. Each page offers a different perspective using Ottley's incredible eye. The front cover shows a tree from a child's point of view, later from that of the animals which hide in its roots, then the sky as the wind blows the tree savagely and again from on high as we see the city taking over the area in which the tree stands. The city seems to appear very suddenly, but just as quickly changes from a stark, smoke belching environment to one which seems calmer and is surrounded by trees.
Readers will look at trees differently after falling into this worthy book.
Fran Knight