Book Review of The Tree and the River
The Children’s Book Review
What to Expect: Nature, growth, and change.
From the award-winning author and illustrator known for his wordless storytelling, The Tree and the River is a meditation on time, sustainability, and the human/nature relationship.
Once upon a time, a seed grew into a seedling and then into a tree, standing on the banks of a winding river. Trees live for a long, long time, so this tree saw many things. It saw a simple house being built and then a farm with a family to tend it. It saw the farm grow into a village, the village grow into a town, and the town grow into a city.
As the people and their homes grew and changed, they watched their relationship with the land they shared with it change also, as the men and women filled the space, plowed the land, cut the trees, and polluted the river. The tree lived longer still. It lived to see what happened to the people and their city when the river and earth could no longer support their greed.
There is no text at all in this picturebook; instead, readers are left to draw their own conclusions and insights from the richly detailed, immersive artwork, in which light, shadow, movement, and a soaring sense of scale help bring whole landscapes alive on the page. Because there is no text, the story is supremely inclusive, drawing in beginner and advanced readers alike and encouraging them to look harder and search deeper for meaning—on the page, in their imaginations, and in their thoughts.
It may not be a traditional reading experience, but The Tree and The River is both beautiful and deeply satisfying.
Buy the Book
About the Author
Aaron Becker is the best-selling author of the award-winning Journey trilogy, along with several other books for children, young and old. His love of travel led him to the city of Granada, Spain, where a rich history of layered civilizations inspired him to write The Tree and the River. To prepare for the story’s illustrations, he first constructed a scale model of the book’s rolling landscape, which he then slowly transformed with clay and wood over many months. When he’s not home with his wife and two daughters, Aaron Becker can be found creating something new in his studio in western Massachusetts.
Listen to our exclusive interview: Aaron Becker Discusses ‘The Tree and the River’
What to Read Next:
The Tree and the River, by Aaron Becker, was reviewed by Dr. Jen Harrison. Discover more books like The Tree and the River by following our reviews and articles tagged with nature, growth, and change.