A little tree tries to overcome setbacks—and learns that she can heal—in this debut picture book.
A tiny shoot grows into a seedling and then a sapling. When she and other trees are planted in a row along a road, she’s proud of her height and how much she resembles her cohorts. One night, lightning strikes the tree; passers-by fear she will be cut down. But she wills herself to grow, and when she recovers, she has a new shape and a nickname: the Lollipop Tree. Soon she suffers another hardship when a driver knocks half her roots out of the ground. But with the help of the man and his companions, she gets a second chance to thrive. The realistic paintings by debut illustrator Schwarz feature lovely landscapes and skyscapes. While a few humans appear, the images often offer a tree’s-eye view of events. Each image contains a praying mantis, which lap readers should enjoy hunting for. The sentences, like Schaufeld’s contemplative story, meander. The frequently challenging vocabulary (fragrant, pliable) makes this a suitable read-aloud. The tale’s largely quiet movement through the seasons—and its happy ending—gives it an appealing tone for nap or bedtime reading. Independent readers may grasp the deeper concepts: that healing requires resolve; struggles may seem unfair; and surviving a problem instills confidence to confront the next one.
While its unusual structure and poetic language may puzzle audiences, this empowering story of beating the odds and the beautiful paintings should encourage rereading.