One Tree
Written by Christopher Cheng, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
Published by Penguin Random House
RRP: $24.99

From looking at the cover, and reading the title, one would think this is the story of a tree. Well, it is, sort of, but it is so much more. Grandfather lived in a mountain village where he tended his farm, walked to the village markets and loved life. But now he is old and where his village was is now a city. He is sad, and look so lonely even though he lives with his family. He sometimes ventures to the markets with his Grandson, the narrator, shuffling along among the hurried and noisy crowd. When Grandson find s small tree sprouting through the concrete, he knows his Grandfather will know what to do. Taking it home, he plants it and cares for it, and before long it is growing. One tree becomes two, and then more, birds begin to visit their balcony covered in trees, and Grandfather is much more content. But it does not stop there, neighbours begin to do the same, and before long the ugly, grey buildings that all look alike change.

This is about the importance of family, caring for each other and the environment. The encroachment of the city on farming land, destroying communities and homes in the process, is a world wide problem, but this book shows there is hope.

This book is such a treat, touching and heartfelt. The illustrations are exceptional and the verbal narrative is well worked. The combination of the two offer a wonderful picture book to be read and treasured. Bruce Whatley explains how he created the illustrations here, using technology based on Linocut techniques. The result is extraordinary.

This will be a favourite for years to come. An absolute must for all libraries, including secondary school with picture book collections.

Comprehensive teacher resources can be downloaded here.

Many thanks to Penguin Random House for supplying this book for review.