Nell Plants a Tree written by Anne Wynter and illustrated by Daniel Miyares, published by Balzer + Bray.
I love the lyricism, alliteration, and rhythm of the text in Nell Plants a Tree. The reader is recounted what happens after Nell finds and prepares a seed for planting:
Before a grip on a branch
and a fall to the ground
before anyone finds out how high they can climb,
Nell picks up a seed.
Recounting the order of events in reverse, as Wynter does, creates a rhythm of anticipation and slowing down. While a future family will live and grow around this tree, the reader experiences the past as Nell prepares the seed and nurtures the tree that it will become. This tree is the background, beauty, and strength of a family and its generations.
Miyares' art is so inviting, it will make readers want to run to the tree while also digging their hands in the dirt alongside Nell all the years prior. I also appreciate how the illustrator chose to keep Nell in the same color dress throughout the narrative. That detail helps young readers follow the story and understand the passage of time. The tree is particularly beautiful on the last pages as its roots grow and deepen. And the last spread is so skillfully realized, I couldn't help but smile and feel like I wanted to know this family.
Imagine something you could plant that would last a lifetime or two.
Imagine a photograph or image you could create that would last a lifetime or two.
Imagine something you write down, a story or poem or letter, that would last a lifetime or two.
Ask a grown-up if they have anything from their childhood, something they had planted or created or something created by someone before them, that still exists. How is it appreciated? How is it passed from one person to another?
Imagine all the memories since and the many to come.