A tease of trees
The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
May 9, 2020
There comes a time, after strong fall winds and freezing winter nights, that there is enough warmth from the sun to once again trigger the miracle of spring. And within that miracle, trees burst into all shades of tender green leaves. Have you noticed?
But what if you noticed something else? What if you saw a great oak fall to the ground, then stumble to her feet as a girl? That is exactly what happens in the first pages of “A Tree of Ages” by Sara C. Roethle. What would it feel like to be a tree for over 100 years like Finn, then suddenly lose your branches for two arms and legs? Would gaining the ability to walk away from where you had been rooted be a relief or fill you with regret?
“A Tree of Ages” is a seven book series filled with Irish folklore and Celtic names and language. Beware though, the fairies are not the nicest and there are other grim creatures to be faced as Finn and her companions seek answers to many questions. How did she become a tree and why? Was someone responsible, and was it to save her or keep her from something? While they are traveling, Finn still longs to put roots into the ground and regain the peace of her meadow. Will she ever come to terms with being a girl instead of a tree?
Trees are a great theme for many books, especially children’s picture books. There are stories about all kinds of trees, from forest and orchard variety to wishing trees. I especially like “The Wish Tree“ by Kiyo Maclean, illustrated by Chris Turnham. Charles makes a wish with the help of friends, both human and the animal variety, then they help him find his wish.
“The Things I Love About Trees” by Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Charlotte Voake, brings trees and animals and seasonal changes together. But what happens when a lumberjack cuts down trees in “The Lumberjack’s Beard” by Duncan Beedie? Sadly it doesn’t work out to have the birds and small animals live within his beard. What must be done is to plant new trees!
In “The Night Gardener” by Eric and Terry Fran, a young boy figures out who is trimming trees and bushes into animal shapes during the night, and becomes a helper.
The boy in “Stuck,” written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, taunts the reader by twists and turns as he changes the directions of a story in problem solving by tossing the possible answers into a tree. Then a new answer must be found, stretching the possibilities and the realization that there isn’t only one answer to a problem.
Trees can be named as in “Our Tree Named Steve” by Alan Zweibel, illustrated by David Catrow, where a family spares a tree during the construction of their home, then names the tree Steve. Steve becomes a memory maker, playing an integral part in their lives. Then trees actually change a whole city found in “The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Woman Changed a City Forever,” written by H. Joseph Hopkins. A dry desert town becomes lush, green and shaded by the careful planting of trees.
Trees come in all sizes and shapes. If you were to be a tree, what tree would you be?
A mighty oak like Finn? A whispering pine? A tree whose leaves turn bright orange and red in Fall? One that blooms flowers in spring and fruit in summer? I think I would like to be a story tree. The kind of tree that draws both adults and children with their books and imaginations. To read beneath a tree on a sultry summer afternoon, lulled by the music of the leaves into a satisfying nap, sounds very good to me.
Be sure not to miss the stark winter limbs softening into dappling green around us, providing needed shade throughout the rest of spring into summer. Oh to be a tree, standing tall and elegantly dressed!
*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.