In yet another heavily earnest parable on how nature will provide an easy cure for the physical and moral sterility of urban life, a young thief has an epiphany after scoring a bag filled with acorns.
“When I was young, I lived in a city that was mean and hard and ugly,” begins the narrator, her own heart as “shriveled as the dead trees in the park.” But that heart changes after the old woman whose bag she snatches extracts a promise that she will plant its contents, and off she goes to plant “among rubble, ruins, and rusty railings, by train tracks, tramlines, and traffic lights.” Presto chango, once the oaks grow (with unrealistic speed), people begin to smile again and create gardens as birds gather in colorful flocks: “Green spread through the city like a song....” She goes on to revive city after city with different kinds of trees, until at last, one night, another young thief takes both bag and bargain to carry on. Carlin echoes the tale’s arc with scenes of drab, smudged cityscapes and crowds of hunched figures that are alike transformed with the appearance of colors and of cascades of flowers.
Valid as metaphor though much less so as a feasible plan of action. (Picture book. 7-9)