Kids’ Book Review: Review: Big Tree

This fresh, inspiring book is
big of heart, big of scope and big of weight!
A stunning hardcover novel of over 500 pages with
images and words, it’s almost indefinable in its breadth. And although it’s
listed as fantasy/fiction for children,
this is one
of those warming books that is absolutely appropriate for all ages to enjoy and
discuss. A surprisingly simple and quick read, with massive themes and
characters that hold your hand through the turbulence, Big Tree is one
for all ages.

stars. I thought I heard you calling me.’

These lines
along with two gorgeous pictures, open the narrative and welcome us into the
story. Louise has been dreaming of the world beyond her home. As fate would
have it, she and her brother Merwin find themselves cast out into the big wide
world when a forest fire rips through and takes the life of their Mama tree.

Yes, this
is a story about two tiny sycamore seeds on an adventure. And you’ll love them!
Our protagonists have listened intently to Mama tree’s wisdom and advice about
survival and thriving, and are well equipped for life away from their familiar
home, even though they don’t feel ready. And so, they are cast off on an

This epic
story wraps itself around climate change, evolution, survival, resilience, mystery,
family and community from the differing points of view of two sibling seeds.
Sounds preposterous, doesn’t it! But it totally works and is profoundly

Endorsed by
Steven Spielberg and narrated as an audiobook by Meryl Streep, this visionary
tale is an immersive and engaging experience which turns many literary conventions
on their heads. The physical book is substantial to sit with, containing almost
300 breath-taking black and white illustrations rendered in pencil and smudgy
crayon, on textured surfaces. The artworks sometimes drive the narrative, and
at other times serve as a backdrop to the words.

And the
words – what words they be! Poetry, prose, dialogue, philosophy and humour are
all rolled into a captivating story that is by turns charming, heart-breaking
and funny. Short chapters within a clever book design mean that sometimes we see
one line on a page of pure white, and at other times, a cacophony of words with
detailed imagery cluttering the page.

Like the
proverbial box of chocolates, you never quite know what you’ll get! The one
sure thing is the great impetus to keep turning pages.

This book
follows its own path in a hopeful and reassuring way to stand uniquely,
strongly, as a shining light of possibility and liberation.


Big Tree
Author/Illustrator: Brian Selznick
Publisher: Scholastic, $32.99
Publication Date: March 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781338180633
For ages: 7 – 12
Type: Graphic Novel

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