cover image Rosario’s Fig Tree

Rosario’s Fig Tree

Charis Wahl, illus. by Luc Melanson. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55498-341-4

What happens when a living fruit tree is buried in the ground? That’s what the narrator of this story wonders when her neighbor, an elderly gentleman named Rosario, digs a long trench for his beloved fig tree. All summer she’s watched Rosario tend his vegetable garden and harvest figs: “Rosario gave the figs to all his friends. I’m his friend, too.” As winter approaches, Rosario lays the tree down and covers it with dirt. There’s a surprise in store the following summer, though, as Rosario demonstrates that plants can survive what looks like death. Wahl’s low-key story focuses on a man whose skills impress his observant neighbor as an instance of magic in the real world: “He knows the perfect day to put in every plant and seed. It never snows or gets too cold after that.” Melanson (Martin on the Moon) draws the characters as thin, drawn-out figures with huge, expressive eyes, placing them against inviting garden backgrounds. It’s a useful addition to the library of urban gardening stories, one that pays homage to the kind of real-world knowledge that can’t be learned from books. Ages 4–7. (Mar.)