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Leo’s Tree

by Debora Pearson, Nora Hilb, illus.

Simple, yet profound: many of the best stories for very young children share these qualities, and they are indeed the feelings evoked by Leo’s Tree. Torontonian Debora Pearson, author of both the Mighty Wheels and the Travel Adventure series, writes here in direct but evocative language about the parallel growth of a little boy and a linden sapling planted to mark his birth. Appealing to all the senses, and using lively verbs, alliteration, and just the right amount of repetition, Pearson describes the growth of Leo and his tree. She focuses on details that interest small children, as she describes the changing seasons, the swelling of buds and falling of leaves, the baby learning to crawl, then walk. At the end of the story, Leo, now a little boy, goes out with his family to plant a new tree for his baby sister.

Nora Hilb, from Argentina, and an illustrator of many books from many countries, has matched Pearson’s gentle text with pictures that echo delight in the details of nature as seen by a young child. Ladybugs have a head-on encounter on a twig, birds and falling leaves flutter overhead, bees visit flowers, a playful kitten grows into a cat with her own kittens. Patterning and movement in the pictures, and rich though subtle colours, enhance the words and the feeling of the story. Leo’s Tree will be much appreciated by new parents, as well as by preschoolers.