cover image Pine and the Winter Sparrow

Pine and the Winter Sparrow

Alexis York Lumbard, illus. by Beatriz Vidal. Wisdom Tales, $15.95 (28p) ISBN 978-1-937786-33-5

Lumbard (Everyone Prays) retells a Cherokee tale about why trees lose their leaves in winter. A sparrow cannot make the seasonal trip south with his family because his wing is injured, so he seeks winter shelter from a variety of trees. The oak, maple, elm, and birch haughtily refuse to help, but a humble, sharp-needled pine takes pity on the bird and provides him with a seasonal home. Come spring, the pine’s kindness is rewarded by the Creator, who allows the tree to remain green all year long. The pacing of Lumbard’s telling builds suspense (“Oak huffed and puffed. Then he huffed and puffed some more. Finally he grumbled, ‘Go away, little fellow’ ”). The spreads by Vidal (A Library for Juana), with their fine detail and muted colors, vividly depict trees that vary vastly in color, shape, and leaf. The message about kindness is obvious, and the one about nature’s beauty and changes is subtle and visually persuasive. A foreword from Native American storyteller Robert Lewis connects Lumbard’s story, which has several variants among native peoples, to indigenous ideas about the sacredness of nature. Ages 4–up. (Feb.)