The Little Tree by Muon Van, illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi
Somewhere in an old forest, a little tree grows. But the forest is shrinking, the rains shower less often, and the little tree knows that her precious seed cannot flourish there. With the help of a brown bird who has flown far into the blue skies, she sends her little seed out into the wide world.
By the time the brown bird returns, the forest is smaller than ever, more trees have fallen than are standing, and the little tree is impatient for news about her little seed. After so much waiting, the little tree finally receives a magnificent leaf from far, far away … and knows that she is remembered.
Muon Van’s “Author’s Note” at book’s end is a complementary story unto itself. As she poignantly explains why she’s written The Little Tree for her mother, Van details her family’s departure from war-torn Vietnam, and their eventual root-taking on the other side of the world. Van writes about how her mother “is both the little tree and the little seed,” of how she went far from her depleted, vanishing homeland for a new life in the United States; there she planted a family of her own, only to release her grown children out into the vast world. Artist JoAnn Adinolfi infuses Van’s familial fairy tale with vibrant colors, swirling motion, and whimsical details throughout, as if a reminder of the beauty all around us, even in difficult situations.
Written with empathy, drawn with vivacity, The Little Tree turns out to be quite a big story filled with hope, care, trust, and so much love.