Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing


Greenback Boy suggests a game called KA-CHING that starts in the forests. He gives Snowboy an axe to cut down all the tree. However, Snowboy thinks ‘We can’t breathe without trees’ and covers one, standing hidden, with his ‘cloak of many uses’. 

With all the trees gone, it appears, Greenback boy has ‘piles and piles of KA-CHING‘ to get anything he wants. He wants more however, so gives Snowboy a net to catch all the fish in the oceans. When Greenback Boy isn’t watching, Snowboy lets ‘two slip free’, for ‘What’s a sea without fish?

When the storms rage, there are no trees stop the fury, so all the tins of fish are swept into the oceans. Snowboy is prompted to return to the last tree standing, which he nurtures and charms. Could there be a seed? Might Greenback Boy need some honey produced in the hive in the tree’s branches? After all, you can’t breathe or eat KA-CHING, can you?

Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing is a proud and present allegory that resonates with meaning and urgency. Snowboy’s cloak is the protection our planet requires, while his awareness is the attitude we need. What an exceptional picture book.


Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing

Hiawyn Oram, illustrated by Birgittta Sif

(Walker Books)

Greenback Boy knows a great game called KA-CHING that starts in the forests. It ends with Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing it seems. However, what does it entail? Snowboy takes ‘his cloak of many uses’ to see how it is played. It starts with an axe and the felling of nearly all the trees. Thereafter, it moves to the oceans where Snowboy is directed to ‘catch all the fish‘. It appears that Snowboy’s efforts will result in ‘more KA-CHING than anyone could ever dream of.’  Yet what happens when a storm grows? Will a strong store box of KA-CHING help them breathe and eat? What will Snowboy discover when he and the Ice Troopers and Polar Bear King reach the last tree standing, disguised by the cloak of many uses? Could there be any return to life?
Like The Last Tree, the allegory is obvious and relevant. However it is unravelled gently and wondrously, with muted, swept pictures and elevated text. Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing is an outstanding picture book, destined to be loved, nurtured and realised for generations.


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