'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 15 January 2024

Review: The Trees: Learning Tree Knowledge With Uncle Kuu

At a time when our young people are engaging more and more with Indigenous knowledge and understanding, comes this stirring book about the significance and importance of our ‘Tree Elders’. 

Although set in Australia and referencing our First Nations peoples’ care for Country, the implications are global and reflect our maltreatment of precious forests.

Tree abuse and destruction threaten not just the survival of the creatures that call the tree ecosystems their homes, but by association, our very existence. 

The Aboriginals knew this and still practise their ancient lore via Songlines to ensure their mutual survival. It is this sacred tree knowledge that indigenous writer, filmmaker and musician Victor Steffensen endeavours to relay in The Trees.

Through simple narrative, readers are introduced to the Tree Elders and their special attributes, powers if you like: the wisdoms of trees and their symbiotic relationship with Country. Uncle Kuu then takes us and a group of ‘book’ children through Country, highlighting habitat facts, interesting uses and characteristics for each part of the trees that live there.

Information is transmitted via easy-to-read fun fact boxes or circles in this case supporting the main narrative. Sandra Steffensen's ably executed illustrations accentuated with aboriginal dot art provide a depth and richness that conveys the heartbeat of the land Uncle wanders through. The result evokes interest and comprehension. And hope. Hope that through reignited love and care, tree lore is reinstated so that our future generations continue to develop greater understanding and respect for our trees and their importance for the welfare of the land, the environment and … humanity. 

Deserving of a place on every classroom and library shelf.

Title:  The Trees: Learning Tree Knowledge With Uncle Kuu
Author:  Victor Steffensen
Illustrator:  Sandrea Steffensen
Publisher:  Hardie Grant Explore, $26.99
Publication Date:  13 December 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781741178876
For ages:  5+
Type:  Non-fiction Picture Book