Big Tree

Scholastic. Apr. 2023. 528p. Tr $32.99. ISBN 9781338180633.
Gr 2-8–Selznick returns with a majestically illustrated, modern-day parable. Sycamore seeds Louise and Merwin are suddenly separated from their mama tree due to a conflagration. They are thrust into a dangerous world of dinosaurs and volcanoes, hoping to set down roots somewhere safe. Throughout their treacherous journey, the stars speak to Louise, hinting at a possible life-changing event on the horizon. Along the way, they meet The Ambassadors (mycorrhizal fungi), Spot (a butterfly), King Seaweed, and The Scientists (Foraminifera). Originally meant for a Spielberg-produced animated film, this tale, with its combination of a childlike narrative and profound illustrations, presents a big, universal story of taking care of the miraculous Earth on which we live. Selznick’s signature art was created with pencil on hot pressed watercolor paper, and the texture and nuance of these nearly 300 pages will strike wonder in every reader. In the back matter, Selznick explains the science behind the story, including dinosaurs, asteroids, and the beginning of life on Earth. It also features a selected bibliography and a poem by W.S. Merwin, the seed’s namesake. Weighty themes of connectedness, conservation, and the impact that one small voice can have on the fate of the universe might feel unfathomable and too big for children, but in Selznick’s hands, this poignant fable will resonate with all readers, young and old.
VERDICT A special, one-of-a-kind book for the whole family that readers won’t soon forget

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