Monday, March 14, 2016

Little Tree by Loren Long -- ESSENTIAL

Long, Loren Little Tree. PICTURE BOOK. Philomel Books (Penguin), 2015. $17.99. Content: G.

Little Tree lived in a forest along with many other little trees. But unlike the others, he clung to his leaves in the fall, refusing to lose them. Winter seemed so cold with bare branches, after all.

Year after year he held fast while the surrounding trees let theirs go in order to grow. Finally, Little Tree was dwarfed by those around him. He could no longer feel the sunlight. Animals did not play in his branches. Would realizing how much joy he was missing allow him to release the leaves he'd fearfully kept so he can finally grow?

This book is a perfect metaphor for the need to face vulnerability and fear in order to experience growth and joy. Every time I read it I find myself rooting for the tree to let go, to see what happens, to be brave. So do my students, who manage to empathize perfectly with this tiny, frightened forest plant. Although the book is geared toward younger students, I used it with my creative writing class (grades 2-6) in order to discuss showing vs. telling, character strengths/weaknesses, and character goal/motivation/conflict. It was a perfect complement to the lesson, and even the older students were enthralled.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Caryn

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