The Inside Tree

The Inside Tree by Linda Smith, illustrated by David Parkins

Mr. Potter’s life was just right.  His house was just the right size for him and his teapot.  His yard had a single tree where birds swooped and under which his dog slept.  But then he looked out his window and noticed that the dog would be more comfortable inside by the fire.  So he brought the dog in.  However, now the tree was alone outside in the dark.  There was only one thing to do: bring the tree inside!  So Mr. Potter dug up the tree, wrestled it inside, and dug a hole through his floorboards for the tree roots.  All was fine until the tree needed more room.  Mr. Potter cut a hole in the ceiling and in came birds and the rain.  His home was very little cozy inside and mostly outside.  So Mr. Potter moved to the barn with his teapot, fireplace and dog.  That is, until he saw a lonely cow outside in the dark…

For all of us who fill our homes with plants, this book takes it to the extreme.  Smith’s writing offers the lilt of a storyteller, filled with just the right amount of rhythm.  She enjoys breaking sentences over a page turn, increasing the tension just that tiny bit.  It works very well in this humorous tale.  Parkins’ art is filled with great contrasts.  We have the perfect image of the small house in an idyllic setting.  Then there is the yellow and orange warmth of Mr. Potter’s clothing next to the fireside contrasted against the cool evening colors of the lonely dog and tree outside the window.  His use of small details adds to the warm feel of the home. This is used again in the barn where Mr. Potter eventually moves.

A unique book about trees and people, this is ideal for Arbor Day and Earth Day and will lend a hearty laugh to any collection of tree stories.  This is one to bark about, make sure not to leaf it too long.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Word After Word After Word

Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan

Fourth grade was dull until the author-in-residence arrived.  Ms. Mirabel brings a love of words and writing as well as her ready laugh to the class.  Through the course of several months, she inspires five fourth graders to write, express themselves, and by doing that change their lives.  The five characters are many for a book this slim, but through their writing they become very distinct.  One of the greatest pleasures in the book is the poetry included throughout, giving us a clear understanding of each character and what they are dealing with in their lives.  A charming book that will inspire us all to carry pen and paper and write to change our lives.

MacLachlan has created a book that is very accessible to young readers with its large font and small size.  She has also managed to portray five characters who go to the same school but are individuals and clearly so.  The character of Ms. Mirabel captures the wonder and inspiration children find in a visiting writer.  It also shows what an impact such a free-thinking and open teacher can have.  But most importantly, this book teaches children what writing can mean to a person, how it can impact their lives, and how important it is. 

Slim and short, this book packs so much in a small wrapper.  Pair it with Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook by Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer for a winning combination that will truly inspire young writers to create.  Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from library copy.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]