Wise old owl who lives in this tree has seen it all before, but in fact there’s something reassuring about his experiences. Seasons come and seasons go, but life continues. And it’s a beautiful life, one to take time to savour.
Tree by Britta Teckentrup (@BTeckentrup) explores the life of a tree across the span of a single year, watching changes in leaves, blossom, fruit and the landscape around. Teckentrup celebrates the seasons with eye-catching beauty and soothingly rhythmic, lullaby-like text, reminding me of Walt Whitman’s tree which “utter[s] joyous leaves“.
We witness the circle of life not just on the tree, but also with the animals who visit; look out for the birds who build a nest and see what happens! What makes this book about seasonal changes stand out is its beauty, attention to detail, and lovely, quiet text which works very well for reading aloud. The physical book is incredibly inviting – from the textured hardback cover, to the satisfyingly thick pages, and most delightful of all – the peep-through holes, which page-turn by page-turn reveal and then conceal visiting animals.
The illustrations look like relief printing, with a handmade texture and matt finish that perfectly reflects a delight in nature and “the natural”. Jubilant use of colour lights up every page.
Interestingly, the text for this picture book was actually written by Patricia Hegarty, but her name doesn’t appear on the book cover or title page inside. I imagine this is because the book is really a vehicle to let Teckentrup’s illustrations sing – which they do in all their glory – but it’s an interesting detail given the current debate about equal recognition for authors and illustrators reflected by the Pictures Mean Business campaign. Do you know of any other picture books where the author doesn’t get the same credit as the illustrator?
Sumptuous, strokable and always in season, Tree tells a timeless tale to delight all.
Inspired by Teckentrup’s artwork, we set about creating our own colourful trees. First we stencilled a trunk…
…before adding tissue paper leaves in a variety of colours.
When dry, we cut out our trees to include their canopy, added a few hand-drawn animals, and put them up somewhere a little bit unusual – by our skirting board – so that other woodland creatures could come and play.
Whilst creating our trees we listened to:
Other activities which might work well alongside reading Tree include:
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Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.