cover image The Adventures of Keva: The Power of the Trees

The Adventures of Keva: The Power of the Trees

Ebony Zayzay, illus. by Upit Dyoni. Zayzay Literary, $12.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-73710-020-1

An intrepid child witnesses deforestation firsthand in this heartfelt picture book, which opens in medias res as young Keva prepares to join her parents’ expedition to the Western Rift Valley. Narrating explorations among the trees (“the breathing sticks of the earth,” writes Zayzay), Keva highlights a sprawling old tree called Iya, whose distress signal Keva hears when Iya is suddenly uprooted and trucked away. Though a gust of magical wind carries Keva aloft toward Iya, the child is too late to save the tree, leading to a discussion of preservation. A line about the beliefs of “the natives” strikes an unfortunate note (“Mom smirks. ‘And, they insist that if you listen closely, you can hear [a] magical whisper’ ”), undercutting the book’s message of hope. Dyoni’s unlined, game-like digital illustrations map clearly to the text throughout, and the brown-skinned family’s dialogue breaks up Keva’s first-person narration. Ages 3–9. Self-published.