Reading/Interest Level: Primary
Author: Paul Czajak
Illustrator: Rashin Kheiriyeh
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Arlo likes to spend his time sitting in a tree, savoring books. He lives in a beautiful, bustling town filled with people who do all kinds of things. But one day while sitting in the tree, a book slips out of Arlo’s hands and hits the mayor on the head! Flustered, Mayor blusters that books are dangerous. Torn pages drift away, and the town wilts without its books. Cooks can’t cook, performers can’t perform, and teachers can’t teach! Arlo has an idea. He writes stories and reads them aloud, and though no one listens, a little book sprout reaches for more, grown from a buried page. Nourished by townspeople, book trees soon dot the town—Mayor finds out when a book plonks him perfectly on the head. He objects, but this time the town won’t give up its books so easily! Though he stomps around, Mayor is soon enchanted by the wonderful things books bring, and enjoys a freshly picked book himself.
When you crack this children's book open, a lovely barrage of texture, warmth and motion envelop you. The illustrations are zesty—clamoring for your eye! Charmingly round characters with tiny paper hats bounce across scenes made of paper collage, perfectly setting the tone for a fanciful tale. There are thick strokes of paint, swipes of pastel, even snippets of feather adorning the illustrations. It is undoubtedly a visually rich book. Humorously ironic, this book also features wordplay and metaphors—some of it subtle, some of it bold, but all fun. The emotions of Arlo come across poetically, if simply, and provide the grounds to enjoy a thoughtful moment with him. The story is not as predictable as you might expect from a book with this title, and has a strong message that encourages freeness of creativity and to try writing, drawing, or speaking. It celebrates the pleasure and accessibility of art in a quirky, unladen fashion. The Book Tree is everything a picture book should be—smiles included!