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Little Tree Hardcover – October 27, 2015
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Pre-order today
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From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—The dramatic changes characteristic of deciduous trees have provided material for authors with personalities as diverse as Janice Udry, Carin Berger, and Shel Silverstein. Long chooses the anthropomorphic route for his simple fable. Little Tree, a young oak, is surrounded by other varieties in the forest. It is a happy life; squirrels frolic and the dove sings "her flutey song" in his branches. When autumn arrives, the sapling does not want to drop his leaves, despite the advice of woodland creatures. He holds onto his brown appendages for many years. It is not until he can no longer feel the sun or hear the birds, that he decides to let go. Long's acrylic, ink, and pencil scenes are presented in pleasing, uncluttered compositions against an abundance of white space; they mirror the straightforward text precisely. Young children will be able to follow the passage of time through the changing colors and sizes of the trees, until the verdant canopy bleeds off the pages during the conclusion. Even though the protagonist was much smaller than his peers during his existential crisis, he ultimately reaches their height. Late bloomers may be relieved at the story's implied message, while others will feel unsatisfied that this departure simply ends at the same destination. VERDICT This gentle story works as a seasonal primer for the very young, but those with more experience may express incredulity at the length of time the tree hangs on and—after all that—the low-key situation motivating his change of heart.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library
* "The illustrations are beautifully rendered . . . Understated and inviting, young readers will be entranced by Little Tree’s difficult but ultimately rewarding journey."—Booklist, starred review
"Long’s gentle but powerful story about a young tree who holds tight to his leaves, even as everyone else lets theirs drop, takes on nothing less than the pain and sorrow of growing up. Season after season, Little Tree clings to his brown-leaved self until he can take a leap and shed his protection. He feels ‘the harsh cold of winter,’ but soon grows tall and green, and it’s not bad at all. As in Long’s unaccountably profound books about Otis the tractor, a pure white background somehow adds to the depth."—The New York Times Book Review
* "[Long's] willingness to take his time and even test the audience’s patience with his arboreal hero’s intransigence results in an ending that’s both a big relief and an authentic triumph. Long’s earnest-eloquent narrative voice and distilled, single-plane drawings, both reminiscent of an allegorical pageant, acknowledge the reality of the struggle while offering the promise of brighter days ahead."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Long is sparing with the text, keeping it simple and beautifully descriptive. Brilliantly colored illustrations done in acrylic, ink, and pencil stand out on bright white pages, with Little Tree taking the center position in each double-page spread. Tender and gentle and altogether lovely."—Kirkus Reviews
"Children will see the tree facing the scariness of change; adult readers may well feel wistful as the story underscores the need to let their babies grow toward independence. Beautiful. Grade: A"—Cleveland Plain Dealer
Top customer reviews
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This is so beautiful. Here are four reasons I know it's beautiful:
I cried the first four times I read it.
I cried as I was telling some adult friends about it at a conference this weekend.
I cried when I shared it with my three teenagers.
I did NOT cry writing this review... but I almost did. :)
Read it. DO IT. Seriously. It is BEAUTIFUL.