Review: The Tree That’s Meant to Be by Yuval Zommer

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A joyous celebration of the natural environment, told through the tale of a tree, this book is a “must” for festive reading lists! Firstly the cover simply shouts “Christmas” with its sparkling, green tree, topped with a glittering star and placed on a rich, red background. However, rather than being surrounded by a festive family, this tree is encircled by forest birds and animals, hinting at its celebration of nature.

Inside, on pages painted in the broadest range of greens, yellows and browns, and populated by sparse paragraphs of text, we learn of the tree, grown from a tiny seed, which never manages to grow tall and straight like the other forest trees. As the seasons roll around the forest suddenly turns white and humans arrive to cut down the trees. In an inversion of the classic “little fir tree” folk tale, our little tree is the one left behind in the forest, whilst all the others are cut down in their prime for a brief seasonal trip indoors.

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The following pages are suffused with the beauty of the natural world, as the wonky tree is adorned with decorations of nuts, berries, leaves and cones. It provides a focal point for the woodland creatures’ Christmas celebrations and subsequently becomes a home for birds and beasts. It is surrounded by love. The final, perfect illustration shows it providing shelter for two reading children.

My words simply cannot do justice to the magic of this book. Yuval Zommer’s finely detailed illustrations and lyrical text command hours of attention, the more closely you observe each page the more you are rewarded by the sight of delicate insects, beautifully patterned feathers and a sense of awe at the diversity of life.

As we hear the calls to protect our planet, this book provides a timely reminder of the wonder of the natural world. I hope that this picture book will be shared by adults and children, and that it will encourage the members of my generation to reflect upon the need to act to protect and nurture the glory of our planet. I am sure that The Tree That’s Meant to Be is going to be very popular at school where we are trying to be stewards of creation, and I will certainly be gifting copies to the youngest relatives this Christmas.

 

I am most grateful to OUP Children’s Publishing for sending me a review copy.

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