This picture book explores the Covid lockdown in a creative and open way that also allows it to speak to other times of darkness that families experience. Covid is shown as a storm that hits and is unlike any other storm, one that forces you to be inside for an unknown length of time. The family struggles with their new time together in a house, going from feeling strange to people getting angry and staying apart from one another. That’s when the storm rumbled and lightning struck, knocking the power out. One candle lit against the darkness brought the family together. The next morning felt different with pancakes and board games and a new way forward even though they were still caught in the storm. Then one day, the sun came out again. It was possible to go outside and start cleaning up.
As I mentioned, this picture book speaks deeply to a variety of dark times felt by a family. The family goes through a complete grief cycle on the page, allowing the book to be about the loss of a parent just as easily as it is about Covid. It’s a beautiful accomplishment of writing, speaking to the universal rather than the specific and allowing us all to see the grieving process as part of Covid too.
Yaccarino often does light-hearted titles, but this one has a lot of emotions that flow across the page. He uses color and expressions to convey many emotions from the anger of being together to the loneliness of being together but separate to the relief of finding joy in one another once more.
A powerful look at Covid and loss that will speak to all of us. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Survivor Tree by Marcie Colleen, illustrated by Aaron Becker (9780316487672)
On a bustling street in New York City, a small tree grew along the tall steel buildings. It was there for almost thirty years, marking the seasons. Then one September day, there were explosions and buildings fell to rubble, crushing and burning the tree. The tree was found in the wreckage with a few green leaves and taken far away to fresh soil. For several seasons, the tree stayed bare, then one day blossoms and buds arrived. For ten years, the tree grew there until it was time to return home. Home to a newly empty sky, where people stopped and wept, and where the tree with its burns and scars offered a way to bridge past to present.
This picture book is based on the true story of the tree that survived the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. Through seasons of bustling city streets to the attack itself to seasons of healing afterwards, the tree shows an inspiring resilience for us all. Using delicate prose, the author writes of the beauty of the tree even when people were not stopping to notice it. The survival of the tree is told with a gentle admiration for its very survival.
Becker beautifully captures the New York City setting of the tree as it changes from before the attack and afterwards. He offers not just a story of the tree itself but an accompanying story in the illustrations about a family growing up alongside the tree and then there loss and memories after the attack. It is this subtle human connection of people to the tree that add much to the book.
A haunting and beautiful look at 9/11 and the tree that survived it and continues to inspire. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Little, Brown and Company.