maple

Maple by Lori Nichols

This is one amazing debut picture book.  Maple loved her name.  When she was a baby, her parents had planted a maple tree in their yard.  It was tiny just like her and as Maple grew so did the maple tree.  Her tree never minded if she was loud even though her parents did sometimes.  Maple loved to be outside with her tree.  She would sway along with it, pretend to be a tree and spend time gazing up into its branches and leaves.  When the tree lost its leaves in the fall, Maple gave it her coat to keep it warm.  Throughout the winter, the two played together.  Then in the spring, there were new surprises!  A new tree in the ground and a new baby in the family.  It is Maple who figures out exactly what to do to keep her new sister happy.

Clever and very satisfying, this book is an exceptional debut.  Nichols sets just the right tone with her prose.  From the very first page, you know that she understands children’s books and the way to structure and write them.  The story is clearly presented and the arc of the tale is nicely plotted and designed.  One knows that it is building towards something, but the book is willing to take the right amount of time to get there.  The book reads like a veteran author wrote it. 

The illustrations are also impressive.  They have a lovely softness to them that is very pleasing.  The colors are muted but very effective.  My favorite pages are when Maple looks up into the tree and you see her through the leaves.  It is all beautifully done.

Take it from someone who named one of her children after a tree and then planted one for him to grow up with, this book captures children, love for nature and new siblings with grace and style.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Nancy Paulsen Books.