cover image Oliver’s Tree

Oliver’s Tree

Kit Chase. Putnam, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25700-1

Illustrator Chase debuts with a sweet yet tightly constructed story of friendship and ingenuity. Lulu (a bird), Charlie (a rabbit), and Oliver (an elephant) are playing hide and seek in the forest. But Oliver’s girth puts him at a competitive disadvantage: his friends can hide in trees and he can’t. “It’s hopeless!” says the elephant, walking away in frustration and embarrassment. “Elephants just don’t belong in trees!” Oliver’s friends are determined to include him, however, and with some clever planning and sweat equity, they build a brilliant and fully accessible tree house out of a stump that’s “Perfect for all of us!” Chase’s crisp, chipper narration never attempts to manipulate readers’ feelings, and her restraint, combined with her subtly expressive characters and the elegant prettiness of her watercolor and ink drawings, lends the book a distinctly British lilt that inoculates it against treacliness. The “Awww” that will all but inevitably accompany the final scene—a rousing game of pirate pretend play—is thoroughly deserved. Ages 3–5. Agent: Teresa Kietlinski, Prospect Agency. (Mar.)