cover image The Branch

The Branch

Mireille Messier, illus. by Pierre Pratt. Kids Can, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-77138-564-0

An ice storm damages trees throughout a girl’s neighborhood, including her favorite branch from the tree in her yard. Still in her pajamas and slippers, she runs outside to survey the scene: “That was the branch I sat on, jumped from, played under,” she mourns. “It was my castle, my spy base, my ship.” Messier (Fatima and the Clementine Thieves) fully inhabits the perspective of her unnamed heroine, drawing readers into her sadness about the loss of a special hangout and her clear-eyed observations of her environment (other neighbors, collecting fallen branches, “carry them to the curb, making big heaps. Like beaver dams in the city”). Pratt (Gustave) captures the wintry setting in rough, forceful brushstrokes and washes of pale blue and cream. Mr. Frank, an elderly neighbor with a workshop, encourages the girl to see the potential in the branch, and with some planning, teamwork, and patience (“We draw plans. We measure. We saw. We saw some more”), they transform it into a rope swing. It’s a gentle reminder that keeping an open mind can help turn problems into opportunities. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)