cover image The Three Trees: 
A Traditional Folktale

The Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale

Elena Pasquali, illus. by Sophie Windham. Lion (Trafalgar Sq./IPG, dist.), $14.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7459-6289-4

Using time-honored narrative conventions, Pasquali (Go Hare and Tortoise Go!) subtly renders the Christian Nativity and Easter stories to powerful effect. Three trees on a hill each dream of greatness: to be made into a treasure chest, a proud ship, and to point to heaven. Their initial hopes dashed by the humble uses made of their wood (a trough, a fishing-boat, and a cross), they come to realize their essential roles in the life of a great though unnamed king. Wide-eyed, curious animals (cats, chickens, sheep) and statuesque, pale angels bear witness to the unfolding drama in Windham’s (Unicorns! Unicorns!) earth-toned illustrations, while raindrops, falling leaves, drooping straw, swirling waves, and lightning convey energy and movement to counteract the stillness of the wooden main characters. Familiar biblical images such as the manger scene, Jesus calming the storm, and the crucifixion take on new resonance when narrated from the trees’ perspectives: “And the second tree knew that it was carrying the mightiest king the world had ever known.” A somber and evocative rendition of the gospel story. Ages 5–7. (Nov.)