Summary: A plucky girl encounters an enormous tree, discovers it includes all fruits, and decides, much to the chagrin of its current animal and insect inhabitants (no epiphytes, sorry!), to climb to the top to retrieve a prized tropical fruit, the mangosteen. On the way she makes a mess, though, and well to continue would be to spoil the reader’s adventure.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW
The Tree Talks Back starts with a girl walking into the forest. A little ways in, she sees a huge, no gigantic, no humongous tree. The tree is so big that it takes her half a day to walk around it. Now the most interesting thing about this tree is that it contained a lot of…. Well there were a lot of…. And then…
You know it was a really big tree and I can’t tell you what was going on because I don’t want to spoil the story for you.
The Tree Talks Back is a beautifully illustrated, very, very funny adventure story. Interestingly, the play on words is what makes this a UNIQUE read.
Sssh–another thing that is unusual about The Tree Talks Back is that the tree…zzzzzzz.
Can you believe that girl. She was about to give you a secret. I had to put her to sleep. Ahem! No spoilers here!
This book is primarily recommended for First Time Readers (5-8) and Middle Grade Readers (9 – 12). But I think all tiny readers and some not so tiny ones will enjoy reading it.
BIO Bill Grigsby leads the glamorous life of a small college professor. ‘I could never write. I went to a ex-pharmacist-turned-handwriting analyst, and she said I should have been a doctor. At the time I didn’t know that simply meant my handwriting was illegible, so I went back to school. I found out the hard way that illegible handwriting and a PhD don’t grant a license to perform surgery. They don’t tell you that til you’ve defaulted on your student loans and lost your first malpractice suit.’
Speaking of student loans, his oldest daughter Esa announced after graduating with a degree in foreign languages that her true passion was illustration. ‘I told her I’d write up an old bedtime story and she could illustrate it. How hard can children’s books be to pen? Complete sentences, right?’
That’s how No egrets Publishing was born. Bill keeps his day job teaching sociology at Eastern Oregon University. ‘Lots of people are locked in to pretty narrow ways of thinking about the world, society, and their places in it. Some of what I do is trying to disrupt intellectual entropy. It’s not a great marketing strategy, but it’s therapeutic.’
Esa keeps her day job in the Portland schools, but her talent at translating stories into pictures, scenes and side stories comes out pretty clearly on the page.
Their stories are full of sociological themes. ‘Kids are a tougher audience than college students. You can’t hold a final exam over their heads. The subtext in The Tree Talks Back is subtle but universal, the visual adornments extravagant, and it will never be mistaken for an academic report.’
At the time I made up this story, I had been working and researching in Africa, and as part of that studying tropical trees and fruits. Our daughters were unimpressed with my day job exploits, and parents intuitively know that none of that matters to young readers at bedtime. Subtext is there for those with an interest, but the story always comes first, and this one–mind you the illustrator was part of that original bedtime audience–was a labor of love.’
This story is best read to a younger audience, older children will appreciate following the meter and rhyme (and the subplots hiding in plain sight in the pictures).