This week is National Children’s Gardening Week, a celebration of the fun children and their families can enjoy when gardening together. An important aspect of gardening is the nurturing and tending of young plants and encouraging them to grow. The Boy Who Grew a Tree is a book which incorporates these themes in a story that also illustrates the importance of our libraries. With a background in school and public libraries and being an enthusiastic if not always successful gardener I was probably an ideal audience for this lovely book in many ways. However I found this an even more affecting story than I expected.
The story begins appropriately as a story told by a grandparent to a child, a sharing of a childhood tale passed on from one generation to another. The hero of the story, (the grandad as a young boy) Timi, is a child who observes the world around him with care. Timi notices things. Perhaps the things he notices are unimportant to others but to Timi these things matter; the caterpillar on the leaf at the bus stop, the spider’s web on the rubbish, the worms hiding under stones. Timi also likes growing seeds in his “little garden” on his windowsill. Meanwhile his mum is growing something too and when Timi’s new baby sister arrives he has to attend the after school club where he makes some new friends. It is then that he learns that his local library is to be demolished and when they break in to explore Timi discovers a tiny seedling. Through Timi’s care something rather magical then happens.
This is a delightful story which despite its contemporary setting and concerns has an old fashioned charm in its fable like quality. The links between the growth of Timi’s seedling, the expanding community involvement and the personal growth of Timi himself are subtle but important. Without ever becoming didactic in tone there is an encouraging message within the story of caring for our environment, our libraries and for each other. The publishers describe this as an ‘early reader’ and yes it would be suitable for children of that age but also for those a little older too. The writing style flows yet includes detail and observation, capturing important moments beautifully. The lovely illustrations are perfect both capturing and complementing the gentle tone of the story.
An absolute gem of a book and highly recommended for newly confident readers or as a read aloud in both KS1 or lower KS2. There were many opportunities for conversation and thoughtful discussion offered by the plot which widen its appeal. Thank you to the publishers Knights Of and Louise Danquah of ed public relations for providing my review copy and inviting me to take part in this blog tour.
The Boy Who Grew a Tree, written by Polly Ho-Yen, illustrated by Sojung Kim-McCarthy, published by Knights Of is out now, priced £5.99
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour and catch up with any posts you may missed.