The Tree Next Door
This heartwarming and uplifting picturebook is an intergenerational tale about the connective power of nature and is effectively brought to life with captivating illustrations. The story focuses on a young girl’s fascination with the large tree in her elderly neighbour’s garden and the loving care and attention it receives from its owner.
Many children are in awe of nature and young readers will enjoy studying the changing seasons as evidenced by the lifecycle of the tree. Indeed, the horticultural setting and associated theme of friendship contain elements reminiscent of Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant. Moyler not only educates readers on the reciprocal relationship between human beings and nature, but also highlights the importance of a strong community spirit and gratitude towards the elderly.
Stanev showcases the bond between the young girl and her elderly neighbour by choosing a similar colour palette for both characters. The mirroring of their physical features may also hint that the young girl is a child incarnation of the older woman. She is the spring to the old woman’s winter. The illustrator also incorporates the genealogical significance of trees; the branches of the tree physically touch the various members of the community, creating a type of family tree.
This enchanting picturebook is a beautiful story with an abiding message that nature is not a place to visit – it is home.