A little girl and a tree grow up together in this sweet debut.
Maple, named for a sapling planted just before her birth, plays alongside her special tree every day, giving it hugs and watching its foliage flutter. Her free-spirited, bracing sessions of solitary, outdoor fun appear as crisp vignettes on white backgrounds, their sequencing marking the marching passage of time, which stops for moments of reflection. A long, grassy double-page spread appears at spring, showing Maple bent knees to nose over dolls, directing a miniaturized theater production under the tree’s canopy. Here’s a child’s world, where page borders crop out parents’ faces and private reverie recurs as an all-consuming pastime, transmuted by Nichols through charmingly plain pencil illustrations and mild digital colors. Maple, sweetly nondescript with her round head, low braids, comfortable dresses and pink cheeks, could easily sit next to any young reader at preschool or day care. Leaf rubbings (from real maple leaves!) dazzle with their sudden crinkles, veins and tart greens and orangy yellows. Another small tree, right next to Maple’s, marks the birth of a new sibling (Willow), who soon joins her sister under dancing leaves in this kid’s kingdom.
An arboreal homage perfect for children reveling in alone time or reeling with a new sibling’s arrival. (Picture book. 2-6)