Author: Lori Nichols
Age Range: 3-5
Lori Nichols' Maple is a quiet little book about a girl who grows up with her namesake tree, a maple. Her parents planted the tree in her honor "when she was still a whisper." As she grows older, the tree functions as friend and playmate (well, sort of). She covers it with a jacket when it seems cold. She makes it a snow-friend. Best of all, she loves to lie beneath it, watching the leaves dance overhead. But life gets even better when a new tree is planted nearby, and a new baby sister is born, a little girl named Willow.
I love the understated humor of Maple. Like this:
"Sometimes, when Maple was noisy
(which was a lot),
her parents sent her outside to play.
Her tree didn't mind if she was loud.
Maple would sing to her tree...
and sway for her tree...
and sometimes even pretend to be a tree!"
The above text is accompanied by vignettes showing Maple singing, swaying, and, of course, pretending to be a tree, leaves in hair, posture stiff. My favorite image shows her holding on to the tree, singing, mouth wide open, arms outstretched, clearly singing with her whole heart. She's priceless.
There's also a wonderful picture in which Maple has surrounded the new little tree with her special toy friends, and learns, hands to cheeks, that "something really surprising happened" (her mother's rounded belly).
But it's the scenes in which Maple takes care of her new baby sister that convey the most heart Therefore, I was delighted to learn recently that there is a sequel to Maple, called Maple & Willow Together. It is on my wish list.
Maple the girl is an independent child who can entertain herself (with the help of a tree), who is happy to have a new baby sister, and who has a deep appreciation for nature. What more could anyone ask of a picture book heroine? Maple the book is a lovely little story deserving of a wide audience. Recommended for home and library use.
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (@PenguinKids)
Publication Date: February 20, 2014
Source of Book: Personal copy, purchased in part for Round 1 Cybils consideration in Fiction Picture Books. All opinions are my own.
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