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Book Reviews

Picture a Tree

by Barbara Reid

Virtuoso Plasticine artist Barbara Reid has created another extraordinary book to delight readers of every age. The variety of shapes and textures she creates by pressing the brightly coloured clay onto her illustration board and adding a little paint is fascinating.

Reid uses her skills to stimulate the imagination of children and suggest possibilities for developing their own creativity. Her illustrations show children in a classroom using drops of paint, or their entire collection of art supplies, inspired by the riotous colour of a blossoming tree canopy.

The title itself invites us not just to see a tree but to picture it, recognizing how its shapes suggest comparisons with other things in the world around us: a tree can be a baby or a grandfather, a high-rise home for various creatures, a sun umbrella, or an ocean of green viewed from a high balcony. One humorous spread asks the reader to take note of trees dressing up, and depicts four people waiting at a bus stop, the hair-do of each amusingly echoed by the clouds, birds, and trees in the background.

Witty details like these encourage careful examination, and gently suggest the cycle of the seasons and of human lives. This is a book to open the artist’s eye in any reader.