Christmas Countdown: Day 2 - The Tree & Tree Beings
Every single thing about this exquisite publication is tactile bliss. Sliding ones hand over the luxuriant cloth cover is akin to stroking the paperbark of a Maleuca. The subject matter is not only detailed in informative and meaningful text but shown in sumptuous detail, so authentic to the colour and texture of real trees, you’d swear illustrator, Sandra Severgnini has merely included close up photographs. But nothing is merely as it seems in Tree Beings. Every square inch of this book is teeming with movement and a multitude of secret tree-life waiting for keen young eyes to discover. Even the front cover hides at least 70 images within the stately image of the book’s name sake. It is truly beautiful. And purposeful too.
Raymond Huber has gathered an inspiring clutch of tree wisdoms, scientific facts and real-life historical events together that marvellously present the majesty of trees, their plights at the hands of heedless humans and their absolute importance to our survival. The achievements of scientists and activists, children and simple caring folk, people who love trees, twine into four distinct chapters or rather Big Ideas (love this!) that describe living with trees, how they can save us and why they are like beings. The latter is truly astounding and one of the reasons I’ll never be completely vegan: I just have way too much respect for our botanical beings.
This book is naturally text heavy but Huber’s narrative is thoughtfully typeset into easy to read chunks with ‘imagine you are there…’ text boxes that create a stunning sense of presence and drama. There is much to love about this book which is ideal for young nature lovers but would be equally at home on the family coffee table (do they still exist?).
The overriding significance of Tree Beings is just how vital trees are for the health of our planet’s climate, water, soil and wildlife. In short if we don’t recognise and defend their importance, if we continue to ignore our part in nature as blindly as we have theirs then we’ll continue to suffer fates such as climate change. Like many notions of profound purport, Tree Beings is beautifully simple and obvious and to paraphrase Dr Jane Goodall’s foreword, I hope that it helps children all over the world understand the importance (and beauty) of trees. It certainly makes me want to get out there and plant one.
Author: Raymond Huber
Illustrator: Sandra Severgnini
Publisher: EK Books,$34.99
Publication Date: October 2020
For ages: 7 – 12
Type: Non Fiction Picture Book
Graeme Base’s artwork is renowned. His picture books are incomparable examples of intelligent storytelling and exquisite visual treasure hunts that fascinate as well as entertain. The Tree is this and more.
Cow (a gorgeous highland cow) and Duck (a stunning male mandarin duck) happen upon a gigantic tree one day. Its branches are laden with mooberries – cow’s favourite and its base roots are festoon with mushquacks – duck’s delight. They each take up residency in the tree, cow amidst the branches, duck deep below in a secret hideout; each blissfully unaware of the other tucked away in their own little kingdom until one day a giant storm rocks their reality and sense of security. Jealous of the other’s domain, paranoia sets in so that each of them sabotages the structural safety of their tree. The inevitable happens when another fierce storm strikes and their home, the tree is lost. Will they be able to rebuild and learn to live in harmony?
The Tree is a visual feast that belies the simplicity of the text. Cow and Duck’s tree not only housed them but was home to a myriad of animals juxtaposed to represent all continents of the world. Their story suggests the need to look beyond our own closeted existences at those around us and examine our communities and our reliance on one another in times of adversity. The Tree, like mother earth, is a mighty and generous provider but it cannot withstand fear and ignorance indefinitely. With patience, understanding and time, nature repairs and like the tree of life, strength and beauty restored.
The Tree is a story steeped with mood, comedy and a deep appreciation for the natural environment both joyful to read aloud or absorb quietly by oneself.
Author/ Illustrator: Graeme Base
Publisher: Penguin Random House,$24.99
Publication Date: November 2020
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book