A boy in India sees a baby tree growing by the side of a dusty path, and, because he protects it, it flourishes throughout his lifetime despite the changes to the landscape around him.
Krishnaswami’s spare text tracks the tree’s growth over time, with the titular refrain “Out of the way! Out of the way!” giving voice to those who hurry past it. Mixed-media pictures inspired by India's arts-and-crafts tradition depict the path turning into a lane, then a street, then a road, signaling the rapid development that transforms the landscape from a quiet, sleepy village into a busy town. Meanwhile, the boy grows into a man, and the tree becomes a meeting place for local people. The message to stop and smell the roses (or enjoy the tree) comes through effectively as spreads become more and more saturated with imagery that crowds out white space. Some readers may be unable to easily identify the boy who leads off the story from page to page, but the text seems less interested in following his character than on attending to the tree’s particular role in providing a place of rest and beauty. And in that, it succeeds beautifully.
A lovely, unique contribution. (Picture book. 4-8)