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Thursday, 20 June 2019

Review: One Tree

In Bruce Whatley’s spectacular visual narrative of One Tree written by Christopher Cheng, Whatley wanted an illustration style that reflected Chinese culture and tradition

The outcome is a stunning series of full-page linocut-look illustrations whose beauty will leave readers in awe of his talent in transforming text.

This is a significant story told in first person narrative from the point of view of a boy, perhaps taken from Christopher Chen’s own rich background. It could be anyone’s story. 

It speaks of an earlier generation when every day was lived to the fullest, when older members of the family taught their life to the younger ones through stories. 

They spoke of their villages or homes, the people they met each day, and their repetitive routines that meant so much. Conversations that filled their evenings were about experiences in nature, the things they loved to do, look at, and the landmarks of their life, such as the tallest tree that could be seen from the top of the mountain.

But that is no longer the case for this grandfather whose life is a room in a city apartment. There are no trees or a single thing of nature within his view except the fading picture of his mountain that hangs on the wall. And there are no more stories. He sits silent and sad.

When the boy finds a spouting plant in the cracks of a path, he knows that grandfather will know what to do with it. Can this sprouting life help grandfather’s smile find its way back to him? Will his voice once again allow the stories flow?

Title: One Tree
Author: Christopher Cheng
Illustrator: Bruce Whatley
Publisher: Penguin, $24.99
Publication Date: April 2019
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780143786733
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book

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