The Tree and the River

Candlewick. Mar. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536223293.
PreS-Gr 2–Becker delivers another wordless tale with highly detailed illustrations that readers will pore over as they follow the story of the rise and fall of a civilization and nature’s ever-present witness to the endeavors of humankind. In a green valley a tree is rooted along the edge of a meandering river. First a house is built, then a town, and the tree is witness to the development. As time passes a city rises full of wondrous innovations but eventually that crumbles as well; the tree remains in its spot. Environmental challenges have their impact and nearing the story’s end the tree is beaten and worn but it produces acorns that fall into the river and take root just around the bend from the original tree. While humanity has seemingly been eliminated completely by the conclusion of the book, readers will find that perhaps a different future can be created with a more harmonious relationship between civilization and the natural world. Becker’s illustrations are fascinating to behold and his wordless storytelling could serve as a prompt to begin a unit on the development of human civilization or the impact of people on the environment.
VERDICT Fascinating and thought-provoking, this title deserves a spot next to Becker’s other masterpieces of visual storytelling. Thoughtful and highly engaging.

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