Nell Plants a Tree

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Jan. 2023. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062865779.
Gr 1-4–In two stories that speed gracefully toward each other, a modern one from the present back through time, and the title story, from the beginning to the moment it meets up with the modern one, readers learn of a seed that becomes a tree and all of its bounty. There are members of a Black family, climbing the majestic branches of a pecan tree, baking pies with its harvest, even falling off it after losing a grip, and then there is Nell as a child, who plants a pecan in a large pot till it sprouts, transplants it as a sapling to a piece of land, tends it, then grows up, begins her family, often in the shadow of the ever larger tree. As the book comes to a close, and Nell’s yellow dress is seen to become her trademark, even in her older years as a family matriarch, readers will realize that they met her in the early pages, and the circle is complete. Miyares creates breathtaking paintings that share and further the dance of words, which use italics and roman typeface to let readers know when they are in the past or present. The lines are lyrical but tight, not a word out of place, with Nell’s active role in the past both told and shown, while in the present, she is a bustling member of the background cast, as her many young relatives take the spotlight.
VERDICT A story of a tree, of generations, of mindfulness, and a wonderful way to show how small acts have far-reaching consequences.

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