Brian Selznick’s book Big Tree tells a tale of the interconnectedness of the natural world and how even the smallest can have a big impact. This true-to science, richly illustrated tome features Louise, a Sycamore seed who wishes to know the language of stars. While she is curious and adventuresome, her brother Merwin is more of a protective worrier. Together, the two have been charged by their mother to be brave and strong as they fly through the air to find a safe place to put down roots: “A good parent always gives their children roots and wings. Roots to settle down, and wings to bravely go where [they] need to go” (59).

Readers will travel with the seeds as the world forms and transforms through the eons. Along the way, Louise and Merwin collect experiences and wisdom that remind them that their destinies are more immense than they realize and that every living thing plays a role, right down to the lowly mushrooms, which act as Ambassadors in “a vast underground system with millions of miles of tiny fibers connecting all the roots of the trees to the forest like an endless river of knowledge. This system moves huge amounts of information about water, nutrients, insects, weather, and anything else the trees need to say alive” (82).

Like Dr. Seuss’ Lorax who speaks for the trees, Selznick implores his readers to “remember, life began as a gift, and it must always be treated as such. No matter how unstoppable the danger seems, no matter how unavoidable, there’s always something you can do” (434-435). We survive when we work together, even in the face of destruction, by forming a community, sharing knowledge, and keeping hope alive.

  • Posted by Donna

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