Jill Neimark, Author
Nicole Wong, Illustrator
Magination Press, Sep. 22, 2015
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes: Trees, Nature, Determination, Resilience, Hope, Compassion
Opening: “On a bleak and lonely rock / by a vast and mighty sea / grew a lonely little tree / where no tree should ever be.”
Synopsis: This is a story about a lonely little tree planting its roots on a high cliff above a beautiful and unforgiving sea. The tree basks in the spring and summer sunbeams and endures the raging storms and the cold winters. It thrives with the ebbs and flows of the sea. It provides a home for a loon family. Over time the harsh environment begins to tear its exposed roots and weakens the tree. One day a boy discovers the tree high on the cliff. Everyday he brings rich soil and tends to the tree until it one day it fulfills its greatness.
Why I like this book:
The Hugging Tree is an inspiring story about a tree’s resilience to thrive and survive the harsh challenges of being the only tree at the top of a cliff. Jill Neimark’s poetic and rhythmic text sings off the pages as we follow a tree through its many seasons. The story is a beautiful metaphor of the natural world that children will understand and embrace as they face challenges in their daily lives. It will introduce them to themes of resilience, determination and standing tall during difficult times.
The story is also a triumphant reminder of the inescapable connection between people’s actions and nature. The boy shows love and compassion in his tender care for the tree so that it begins to thrive and realize its full potential. It is also reminds children that they too can make a difference.
Nicole Wong’s watercolors are exquisite, lively and expressive and contribute significantly to the story. There is power in her illustrations of the stormy sea and windy coast, and sensitivity when the tree is ragged and barely standing. This is an exceptional pairing of art and text.
My Favorite Lines:
Soft gold sunbeams / kissed her crown, / warm as honey pouring down. / At night she raised her branches high / to greet the moon up in the sky.
“Mighty cliff, hold me tight. / Don’t let me blow away.” / “Little tree, with all my might, ‘ I’ll hold you close, / night and day.”
Now every day new people stop / to rest beneath the little tree / and dream the things we all dream of. / To love, to share, to give, to dare / to grow just where we are. /
And to this very day they come. / For on a splendid sunny rock / by a warm and bright blue sea / a great big hugging tree / grows just where she was meant to be.
Resources: There is A Note to Parents and Caregivers in the back pages, which is a perfect resource for parents, teachers and counselors helping children build resilience. It provides suggestions to help children talk about the challenges they face daily (i.e. bullying, disappointments, loss, etc.) and tools to cope. Make sure you also read Neimark’s remarks at the beginning of the book about the conception of The Hugging Tree. Visit Jill Neimark at her website.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.
*Please Note: My website will be on hiatus until October 19.