cover image From Tree to Sea

From Tree to Sea

Shelley Moore Thomas, illus. by Christopher Silas Neal. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4814-9531-8

Illustrated by Neal (Everyone) with serene, spacious landscapes, lyrical free verse by Thomas (This Book Is Not About Dragons) explores lessons to be found in the natural world. One voice narrates, but many children appear in the spreads. “Trees show me how to stand tall./ Even when the wind/ tries to blow me down,/ I dance with the breeze./ I do not fall.” Neal draws a tree in a gale, its leaves scattering. A girl in a blue dress stands underneath it, arching her body to the side with a sweet smile on her face, long black pigtails blowing in the breeze. Often, in Neal’s spreads, the majesty of the natural world (the moon, a mountain, bees foregrounded on a page) dwarfs the humans who populate it. In one striking image, the figures of an adult and child in a tiny boat are seen from above, the shadow of a mammoth whale visible below (“Whales show me the wonder/ of big things and small things”). Addressing readers who are likely to draw inspiration from the outdoors, Thomas’s exhortations celebrate both natural beauty and human virtue in a kind of gentle eco-theology. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary & Media. Illustrator’s agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Feb.) [/em]