Tammara Or Slilat charmingly addresses the fear of change in her engaging children’s picture book The Tree Who Didn’t Want to Grow.
The tree in question starts as a seed but soon notices green leaflets sprouting from his head. He begins to grow roots, complaining all the while: “This is the life I now have to face:/ always to be stuck in just one place.” As the tree grows, experiencing cold, heat, wind, and the seasonal shedding of leaves, he repeatedly voices a lament: “With all the commotion outside,/ I wish I was tucked inside,/ safe and warm beneath the ground,/ where I could ignore the whole world around.”
Finally, when faced with a severe drought, the tree realizes he must summon his courage and “brave up”; with great effort, he pushes his roots deeper, finds water, and survives. The tree then comes to a realization: “The commotion outside,/ the buzz and the drone,/ is better than being/ in the darkness alone.”
Slilat uses compelling rhyme throughout, and the text featured in the illustrations’ word balloons is an added plus (although there are a couple of minor missteps, such as, “Your tenants friek [sic] me out.”
The illustrations, expressive and humorous, are black and white; the author’s prologue encourages children to color the book themselves. She also includes surplus drawings of frogs and owls at book’s end that can be cut out and glued into the book’s illustrations. Although the sense of scale seems incorrect on some of these “extras,” it’s a unique, creative touch.
The story serves as inspiration for younger children (and could also reassure kids at the higher end of the book’s target age range—3-10—who might be fearful of the changes their bodies will face during puberty). The Tree Who Didn’t Want to Grow is a charming book. It will be especially helpful for children who, like the tree, become anxious and upset about changes to the status quo.
Also available as an ebook.