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The One Tree

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David Pierce Hughes, ill. Richard Perrot
Seasquirt Publications
Nov 2006
�I knew you would not let me down. I knew that one day you would come and help me to grow back into a tall strong tree.�

This highly illustrated work paints human worries and preoccupations as transitory against the span of existence that trees have traversed. Impressive in magnitude, it charts the millions of years that trees have grown, been maligned by ice sheets and fire, but yet have struggled to survive. It maps out the millions of years over which evolution advanced. It arrives at a present day that is at once timeless and enduring.

At the heart of this present day, not far from anywhere yet near somewhere, stands a lone tree. This touching tale tells of the special kinship and closeness that develops between the tree and a boy. The tree sees the good and the utility in all things and from him the boy is able to learn and, at last, to no longer feel lonely.

When the boy and his family are due to move to a new town hundreds of miles away, the boy resolves to visit his friend one final time. Torn into the hillside, however, are deep tyre tracks and when the boy arrives, all that is left of the tree are a few roots and broken branches, the tree has been cut down.

Timescale shifts again within the work and the boy becomes a man and grows older, never able to feel fully at home or at ease. Eventually he journeys back to the site where his friend tree used to live and weeps at the memory of all they had and shared. The tears feed the earth and from it grows a shoot of a tree that grows firm and strong.

Centred around man�s relationship to his environment and the key importance of remaining responsive to this in all of our actions, �The One Tree� is an unusual, highly distinctive, timeless tale. Richard Perrott�s earthy, organic illustrations wonderfully augment the story and the vivid green of new growth adds considerably to the sense of mysticism and magic engendered within nature�s vitality.

Tundra Mouse Mountain

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Riitta Jalonen, ill. Kristiina Louhi
WingedChariot Press
May 2006
�Dreams often disappear from me if I don�t talk about them first thing in the morning. Sometimes it�s as if they never even existed.�

Personal voyages, the importance attributed to homelands that are able to be returned to and the strength of family ties bind and intersect this Spartan, yet delicately beautiful tale by Finnish author Riitta Jalonen, one of the latest continental offerings made available in the United Kingdom by WindedChariot Press.

More a full-colour, highly illustrated novella than a traditional picture book, the opening sees mother and daughter on a journey . The daughter�s enthusiasm and interest in words and in naming things provides insight into an imaginative world that that the narrative and pictures here present only a glimpse of and that readers� imagination brings to the fore.

The couple's journey aims to take Tundra Mouse, a flowering plant more commonly called �Alpine mouse-ear� that mother collected years previously, back to the Arctic. The voyage is built up of a series of moments each one vivid in the way it sensuality, making this a memorable voyage and books. The pair pass amongst Lapland birches, pinic by the river Teno, cllect waters from the oceans and stones from the beach. A real sense of holisticity between man and environment is presented.

That the daughter has collected so many mementoes of her trip leaves one wondering whether with time�s passing another voyage into personal pasts might be made with a child of tomorrow, this book allows that and is itself a soulful treasure�

"Whoops - there goes Joe!"

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Miles Gibson Illus. Neal Layton
Apr 2006
The zany and intriguingly titled �Whoops � there goes Joe!� forms the sequel to Miles Gibson and Neal Layton�s first collaboration about the Bodkin family; �Little Archie�. These are fantastic, affordable-with-pocket-money, perfectly shaped and sized little books ideal for little hands that belong to big readers!

The Bodkin family still live by, or rather attempt to live by, the family maxim �You have to stay regular�. However regularity is a rare commodity when Uncle Bernie is about, especially when he is accompanied by �an enormous parcel made from cardboard and held together with tape and string� � a parcel furthermore containing another of his madcap inventions, on this occasion a television�

What could possibly go wrong with a television? When it has added grommets, gizmos, whatsits and thingamajigs, the answer is quite a lot�! Sure enough, before too long baby Joe is addicted to the two-hundred educational channels being pumped into the Bodkin living room. Even the attractions of playing in the garden with Archie and having a strawberry milkshake with mum are diminished now. Mr Bodkin embarks upon the enviable and engaging activity of reading baby Joe a story. All is going well until he falls asleep, then the danger begin as�

�Whoops � there goes Joe!�

So begins an inter-channel chase made �remote � (!) from the reader by its metafictional qualities as first Joe and then Archie are assimilated into the consuming drama of television.

At base, a ripping yarn, this book is also a gentle reminder of the importance of spending quality time with children and a caution against being lured into using the television as constant occupation � one never quite knows just what it is that children might be being sucked into!

It is impossible not to be captivated by the level of attention and detail that has gone into the production of these little books. The pairing of Miles Gibson and Neal Layton is pure gold. Small in stature it might be, but this book, along with its prequel will make a great addition to any child�s bookshelves.