Although Thea has grown up in an ugly brick city without trees, flowers or plants (is it in Europe or North America?), her parents remember trees with fondness.
Mama remembers “trees to climb, trees to hide in, trees to sit under and dream.” Papa has happy memories too, more specific to India: “picking mangoes and guavas and neem leaves to eat.” When, miraculously, Thea sees a falling leaf, she follows it into a dreamlike adventure. High above the Earth, she meets a talking tree with white leaves who can tell that Thea doesn’t want to grow a tree just to cut it down for firewood or paper pulp. The tree gives Thea a seed to plant with directions to “give it water and love and conversation.” A tree that lives on for generations is sown, giving great happiness to Thea and her descendants. This simple story is accompanied by paintings that employ a sense of magical realism; Chagall-like figures have occasionally upside-down heads and are posed against three beautifully textured backgrounds. The text is printed over delicate, beige leaf prints that embellish the pages.
With its droll paintings and fablelike story, the book will appeal to those whose tree-hugging instincts and good wishes for the Earth’s future are intact. (Picture book. 4-7)