A Family Tree

HarperCollins/Clarion. May 2024. 40p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063242463.
K-Gr 3–A baby spruce tree is planted on the lands of Grandma’s garden, a haven for indigenous flora to thrive in its authentic home. Baby Francis, holding the same height as the spruce, grows with this newly planted tree, Gaawaandagoonce. As Francis gains strength and consciousness of the natural world, so does Gaawaandagoonce, the spruce tree, in its role in the environment. Both Francis and the spruce tree’s roots grow deep and sturdy in Grandma’s land. But when the caretakers are faced with leaving, a beautiful story unfolds of how tenderness entwines with adaptability, solidifying a stronger connection to home. Soothing illustrations imitate the natural, lush world of what Gichigamiing has to offer, as based on the real life of the author’s family. This authentic yearning to keep connection with who and what is considered home shows readers that growth and comfort is possible at the same time. The parallel timing of the spruce and the main character growing presents an opportunity for readers to gain a curiosity of the cyclical world surrounding them.
VERDICT The steady, pleasing pace of plot and illustrations will complement most collections; its delicate message lands hard and is heartfelt.

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