There are plenty of kid's books that are written to teach a lesson and I avoid those books like, well, like kid's books written to teach lessons. Even kids don't want to be beat about the head with a lesson, given the choice. It's easy to write a story with a lesson, it's not easy to write a good story with a lesson. With his new book, The Tree: A Fable, Neal Layton signals from the get go that this is going to be a story with a lesson. And, with simplicity of text and kind of kooky, endearing illustrations, Layton has written a very good story with a lesson that is a joy to read.
The Tree: A Fable begins, "A tree." We see a tall pine tree and next to it is a sign, "Land for Sale." Before we find out the fate of the land that the tree lives on, we see all the creatures living in the tree, from birds to squirrels to owls to rabbits with burrows in the roots.
Then, "The new arrivals." A happy couple with a baby on the way, a truck filled with supplies and blueprints signal change for the tree. A few more page turns and the tree and its inhabitants are in turmoil. The couple are devastated when they see what they have done and they get back to righting their wrong. Finding a way to share, they build a "happy home," for themselves and for the creatures they share the tree with.
In other hands, The Tree: A Fable, could have been something very different and significantly less readable and enjoyable. Layton, with his light touch and humor tells a story with words and pictures that is unforgettable and graspable on so many levels. Even the littlest listeners will understand the concept of sharing. And this is a book that you will want to share with all the little (and big) listeners in your life!
Source: Review Copy