cover image Tree: A Little Story About Big Things

Tree: A Little Story About Big Things

Danny Parker, illus. by Matt Ottley. Little Hare (IPG/Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-921714-41-2

Australian author Parker uses the relationship between multiple generations of trees as a metaphor for the parent-child relationship, along with the truth that death will eventually sever that relationship. In the early pages, a seedling sprouts, nestled by the mammoth, curling roots of the ancient tree beside it. “Season after season he was sheltered... and secure,” writes Parker. “Then everything changed.” Ottley’s lush, dramatic paintings are a major source of the story’s power, particularly in the ensuing storm, when a bolt of crayon-yellow lightning splinters the mighty parent tree, leaving things “very different” in the light of day. For “season after season,” the tree is left “fragile and alone”—Ottley pictures it as a dot of green against a smoggy industrial wasteland—until another seedling appears and the cycle begins anew. A human parent and child make appearances throughout, driving home the analogy (and lest readers miss the point, the tree also winds up anchoring a small graveyard following a period of environmental renewal). While the message lands a bit hard, the majestic illustrations and quietly emphatic storytelling pack a punch. Ages 3–5. (May)