I love children’s books, I love nature, and I love trees. So when Little Tiger Kids sent me a review copy of Britta Teckentrup’s and Patricia Hegarty’s new book Tree, I couldn’t have been more delighted.
As the days are getting shorter and the temperatures very, very cooler, it’s a good time to talk about changing seasons with children. Tree does this effectively through a year in the life of a forest tree, explained through Hegarty’s poetic rhyming couplets and Teckentrup’s vivid illustrations. The books begins in winter, as the tree and forest are ‘gripped by winter’s icy chill’. A solitary owl peeps through a cut-out hole in the right-hand page ‘watching in his tree/ no one sees as much as he’.
As the book progresses, so do the seasons. Winter merges into spring, spring into summer, etc, and not only do the illustrations reflect this, but the cut-out holes increase to show bear cubs playing, squirrels scampering, birds singing and bees humming. Suddenly, the tree is no longer the solitary figure it was during winter but a home and a host to all forms of wildlife, attracted by its glorious colours. And still the owl observes from his hollow. When the riotous activity of summer begins to wane, the colours are muted. The holes decrease until even the owl takes his leave when ‘All the forest has gone to sleep’ until ‘the first new buds appear / And so begins another year’.
This cycle of events shows children how the different seasons vary, what happens in the natural world at each time and things they can look out for too. The hard cover of the book feels like wood itself and the pages have a satisfying heavy quality to them. The matt effect means the reader is drawn into the story and doesn’t have to battle in bright light conditions – it just all feels and looks natural and beautiful.
The combination of Hegarty’s poetry and Teckentrup’s artwork is a winner. Children will be entranced by this book and the endless animals, flowers, colours, etc, lurking in the drawings, while adults will appreciate the artistry. This would make a lovely present for any nature lover … or any child.
Please note that while I was sent a review copy of Tree I was under no obligation to review it.