What Did the Tree See?


What Did the Tree See? from the time of its infancy as a small, round acorn, to when it watched deer flee hunters? Thereafter, it saw  forests felled, and the land ploughed for farms. It heard axes chop into trees to build the ships that sailed the seas below its hill.

‘Houses were built where the trees were cut down’ and the village that it watched grow, burst ‘into a town’. Thereafter factories and steam trains shattered the sky with their ‘strange clouds in the air’ and ‘thundering‘. Our tree seems destined to be the last oak. However, despite its age, its rings and hollow trunk, the tree is strong. The animals leave it when the diggers arrive. Thereafter, planes fly overhead, while hedgerows are cut back and meadows die. However children still play upon the tree and climb.

What Did the Tree See? is an outstanding picture book. Not only is Charlotte Guillain’s poetic text a startling historical reference of human and environmental development, but Sam Usher’s magnificent illustrations draw us into realising the changes described by our oak tree. Bookwagon is awed, delighted and enthralled by What Did the Tree See? We recommend it highly to all our readers.

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What Did the Tree See?

Charlotte Guillain, illustrated by Sam Usher

(Welbeck Publishing)– hardback

What Did the Tree See? From its start as ‘an acorn, so tiny and round’, what did it see ‘for hundreds of years?’ It seems that when it was ‘a sapling, still growing’ its bark, its ‘tender young leaves‘ were ‘nibbled by deer’ that fled hunters.
Thereafter, the tree saw other trees cut as the ‘forest was cleared for the village that developed‘. After this, the tree watched as ‘the land all around‘ was ‘ploughed up and sown‘. We watch and realise how the tree’s landscape view has changed since its infancy. Therefore, what might we see through further seasons? Could it be that axes will fell more trees? What of the ships that fill the seas?
Charlotte Guillain, whom we know for titles such as The World Around Me collaborates with Sam Usher of Free, amongst other picture books. Together they have created a gentle, stirring and impactful picture book. It seems that through watching a specific landscape over time, we are aware of humanity’s footprint. Furthermore, beyond the environmental impression, we are offered historical and geographical references. Thereafter, through using a rhyming text alongside Sam Usher’s impressive pen and ink illustrations, it seems as though What Did the Tree See? draws us in closer that we are part of the tree’s history.
Bookwagon is awed and moved by this mighty story. We recommend What Did the Tree See? highly for reading at home and school.


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