A beloved tree brings the town together even after it is toppled in a storm.
Big Tree is “shelter, shade, hiding place. Just right for sharing secrets, leaning, and dreaming.” The landmark is the meeting place in town. But then a storm strikes. The huge noise of the falling tree, the car alarms going off, and the fact that the power goes out all have neighbors leaning out their windows. They spy “a patch of sky that wasn’t there before.” Lawlor nicely enfolds a safety lesson into the tale: the narrator’s father calls 911 and reports the downed power line. Community workers arrive to take care of it: the police, the linemen, the forestry crew. Meanwhile, neighbors of all ages and races gather as a community to talk about Big Tree, share food, cook over fires, and sing. The next day, the remnants of Big Tree are ground away and grass is planted. The community feels the loss keenly but also recognizes what Big Tree has left behind: firewood, mulch, branches for artwork, and more. On the final page, the narrator’s interracial family (a white man, a darker-skinned woman, and their two children) is shown planting a new sapling. “Meet me at Little Tree.” Gordon’s richly colored illustrations portray the togetherness that is sometimes still found in small towns or urban neighborhoods.
Community togetherness at its best in this celebration of a tree. (Picture book. 4-8)