“This is a true story about a Tree that grew from something more than water and sunshine. It grew from love.”
Yes, the story is based on a real experience explained in the author’s note. However, the text immediately underscores the idea that “true story” can mean fantasy based on fact. The third-person tale is told from the point of view of the Animals who, before human beings came along, were using the Tree for such occasions as “weddings and championship bingo tournaments”—and even “first kisses.” Extending the anthropomorphism, different kinds of Animals reveal different human traits, with Chipmunks generally showing dreamier personalities than the take-charge Raccoons. (Capital letters are overused throughout the text). The tongue-in-cheek humor continues after humans discover the tree, and the light-skinned, white-bearded Grandfather of a girl named Charlie adds a swing to a sturdy branch. More and more People (of varied ethnicities) enjoy the Tree, and the Animals, after humorously deliberating, consciously decide to accept them. When the Grandfather and the Tree simultaneously succumb to the ravages of time, the Animals cleverly influence some People to create a fitting legacy. The illustrations are reminiscent of some Golden Books, with plenty of negative space surrounding brightly colored, cheerful, simply portrayed People and Animals. The text is frequently overly sentimental, but it does provide an optimistic message about love, loss, and cooperation.
An imaginative tribute. (Picture book. 4-7)