Inside every individual runs a current of confidence. This current can meander slowly with barely a ripple. It can rage like rapids running through mountains. Whether it is small and silent or large and loud, it is always there.
Perhaps, the source of this current is the same for all individuals. It is feed from multiple sources, some are tiny, others are beyond our senses. The Tree In Me (Dial Books for Young Readers, March 16, 2021) written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken is a luminescent, melodic observation of that sustaining and binding force inside all of us.
The tree in me
is part apple,
It is not just part apple, but it is parts of other fruits and nuts. It also tastes delicious. The tree provides a place of cool and calm. The tree provides a space of warmth and energy.
This tree can be many things. It is beginnings in seeds. It is endings (and continuations) in stumps. In between starting and stopping, it is a source of endless explorations and imaginations. Many call it home.
From the tree comes gifts around it, under it and above it. Close your eyes and reach out with your mind. What do you see, feel, hear, taste or smell near the tree?
This tree is solid, but able to bow when necessary. It draws its strength from deep roots and a full crown. It reaches to other trees, to their roots and crowns. This is true. You!
Every time the words penned by Corinna Luyken are read, it is as if you are being rocked in the serenity and security of a bed shaped of tree boughs. The rhythm fashioned by the comparisons is a lasting lullaby. In these seven beautifully formed sentences, a world within us is revealed. It is a shared world. Here are some more words in the first sentence.
The tree in me
is part apple,
When you open the dust jacket, the loveliness of the unfolding scene leaves you breathless before you softly gasp in awe and appreciation. The portion of the crown shown on the right, front, with the child reaching for the fruit, extends over the spine and to the far-left side on the back. From the bottom of the left, slightly off center, is a thick sturdy tree trunk stretching over the spine. From that trunk, two smaller branches grow, each covered in a gorgeous array of foliage. The lush color palette of vivid pink, blue hues, golden yellows, and brown here is used throughout the book.
On the book case the child has moved to nestle within a fork in a tree, other sturdy branches stretching to the top and left. The crown covers the setting like an umbrella, across the top and down the left side. In the fork on the right, above the child, a huge sun shines. It's like a gigantic piece of fruit. (You could look at this image all day.)
The same shades of color appear on the opening and closing endpapers. The leaves are much closer to us. It is like we are looking up at them, watching as light radiates down through the growth.
On the title page, the tree stands tall slightly right of the gutter, branches and crown spreading left and right over two pages. The child stands in the field of flowers to the left of the tree, looking up at the fruit.
Each breathtaking illustration
was created using gouache, pencil, and ink.
These two-page pictures by Corinna Luyken bring us close to the child, inviting us into each experience. Sometimes, the focus steps back broadening our vision. We see more of the tree and its partners. We see more children. As their shared joy grows, so does our joy. The blend of tiny details and larger brush strokes builds each enchanting moment, moments of discovery, growth, understanding, and connection.
One of my many, many favorite illustrations has the crown of the tree across the top. Along the bottom is a presentation of grasses and flowers. Both are in the same arresting hues. The trunk and its roots begin in the lower, left corner moving toward the gutter. On the right, hanging from staunch ropes is a large tire swing. It is horizontal providing seating for three children. They gleefully spin, heads back in happiness and contentment.
Uplifting, thoughtful, and inspiring through words, artwork, and impeccable pacing, The Tree In Me written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken is a book to read repeatedly. I know it will promote rich musings you will want to share with others. You need this title in your personal and professional collections. Share it widely. Gift it.
To learn more about Corinna Luyken and her other work, please visit her website by following the link attached to her name. Corinna Luyken has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This book is showcased with an interview by Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher, on his site, Watch. Connect. Read.