Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review: The Oak Tree by Steven Spires

by Steven Spires 
Illustrated by Jonathan Caron
Inspired Books
Picture Book 
32 pages 
Ages 0+

An endearing story of love and resilience, THE OAK TREE is a story seen through the eyes of an old southern oak as a powerful storm devastates a community. The tree's relationship with the family it loves is interrupted by a hurricane which wreaks havoc on the community and destroys the family's home. Will the tree survive the storm? Will the tree and family ever see each other again?


This book is written in memory of the victims of the hurricanes Katrina, Rita and other natural disasters, and with this already in mind, I read the book.

The old oak is a lovely tree, one that is easy to picture growing in the front yard. I had no trouble wishing that I too could swing from its branches (or at least, watch my kids play on it) and would have enjoyed such a tree in my own yard as a kid. In other words, this is an old oak to fall in love with.

The illustrations of the tree and surroundings are a joy to flip through, and my youngest daughter went through the book twice simply to look at the pictures. Interesting thing was, she discovered something. Although not mentioned, there is a small creature hiding in every picture. When my daughter noticed this, she loved going back through all the pictures to find the little guy. So extra bonus points on this idea! The only thing that bothered a little bit was the illustration of the youngest boy, who didn't really look the age he should have...but this is easily forgotten.

The first scene starts out as a normal day, allowing the reader to get to know the family and the tree a little bit before disaster strikes. And when the storm comes, the sadness and destruction it brings is very tangible. We felt for the oak as it battled to survive. As for the writing itself, it's an easy read and very appropriate for the age group. A few spots didn't flow as well as they might have, but that didn't ruin the story or the relationship between the family and the tree. I did, however, miss a little more at the end of the story since it felt a little suddenly cut off.

Summed up, this is a lovely tribute to people who suffer these natural disasters, and I think the author did a great job in bringing over the feelings and problems that such a situation involves in a way children will understand.

You can learn more about Steven Spires and his works on his website:

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