Saturday, July 12, 2014

Growing Up Green: Maple by Lori Nichols

Maple loved her name.

When she was just a whisper, her parents planted a tiny tree in her honor, and even though Flavia, Millie Jane, Lena, Lily and Constance were good names... Maple was the perfect name.

So even though Maple is the only child in her family, she is not alone. Her maple tree grows up with her. Her parents put her cradle under the tiny leaves of her tree during her first summer, and as she gets bigger, her tree is always there.

When she learns to dance, her tree dances in the breeze with her. She brings dolls outside and makes a playhouse in the shade of her tree.

Sometimes when Maple was noisy (it was a lot), her parents sent her outside to play.

Her tree didn't mind.

One day Maple notices that her tree has lost most of its leaves. It looks cold, so she takes off her new red coat and wraps it around her tree to keep it warm.

Bur even though Maple loves her tree, sometimes she is lonely for a playmate. And again, her parents are way ahead of her. One day they plant a new tree, a willow, and before too long, Maple has a baby sister. She names her sister Willow and starts teaching her how to play, and to the baby's delight, the two trees dance for them both.

Lori Nichols' Maple (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014) is an insightful look at growing up, a parallel story of a lucky girl who comes into the world with her very own tree to grow up with her. Nichols' soft full-bleed illustrations are simple and sweet, helping tie a child's growing up to the natural world around her. This is a fine choice for young families expecting a new baby, especially for those who can gift the child with his or her own tree, or a a memorable project for a Kindegarten class, who can come back every year for a snapshot with their tree. With starred reviews for Nichols' first picture book, School Library Journal adds "This is a fresh addition to the standard new sibling fare, and young naturalists will identify with Maple's adventurous and tender spirit."



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