cover image The Little Tree

The Little Tree

Muon Van, illus. by JoAnn Adinolfi. Creston (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-939547-19-4

A small tree, dwarfed by taller trees in a dwindling forest, makes the difficult decision to send her seed away, so that it may flourish where she cannot. This tough, affecting premise becomes even more so when Van (In a Village by the Sea), in an author’s note, ties the story to her own family’s exodus from Vietnam and to the broader difficulties facing immigrant or refugee families. Van and Adinolfi (The Perfect Christmas) work in synch to preserve the story’s emotional power without allowing it to become overly grim. Van writes in the pared-down, repeating language of a fable (“The sun rose and the sun set. The little tree lost count of the seasons”), while Adinolfi’s mixed-media illustrations, rendered in a bright and cheery palette, picture the little tree and her seed with large, googly eyes in a landscape of rolling hills dotted with houses. The idea that letting someone go can sometimes be the best way to love them isn’t an easy one to share with children (or parents, for that matter), but Van and Adinolfi do so with grace and aplomb. Ages 3–up. (Nov.)