A little tree is protectively proprietary about his leaves until late autumn surprises him.
Costa has a lovely way with her artwork; she makes the nuance of color, form, and design look childlike and so welcomes readers to take up brushes and paint along with the story. This takes place in what looks like one of the Cinque Terre hilltop villages in Italy. In the village square stands a young tree that is tasting his first springtime. Leaves! How wonderful! But the tree doesn’t like the other creatures to perch on his limbs or relax in his shade. He worries that they may damage his fine new leaves. “Go away.” Not exactly the Dale Carnegie approach, and the other creatures take offense. The seasons progress, summer brings a fright wig of leaves (think Phyllis Diller as an oak tree), then autumn turns them a radiant gold, then winter—poof! All gone. The tree is bereft. A crow comes to explain things (the text here is sparse, quietly emotive, and revealing). “She told the little tree that, come spring, his leaves would sprout again, stronger and more beautiful than ever. The little tree breathed a sigh of relief and made a promise.” Nothing like a little scare to mend your petty ways, but this is so quietly approached, it doesn’t feel like medicine at all.
A smart story of good news leading to grace. (Picture book. 3-6)