Books & Literature

Book Review: The Tree, by Graeme Base

PICTURE BOOK: This is the story of a cow, a duck and a very big tree. A sweet, heartfelt and funny read-a-loud story.

Another wonderful Graeme Base book full of fabulous illustrations to add to your collection.

Few adults in their 30s and 40s who grew up in Australia will not have heard of author and illustrator Graeme Base, born in England, and moved to Australia at the age of eight. And if you are unaware of the name, the books My Grandma lived in Gooligulch, Animalia, The Eleventh Hour and The Waterhole will certainly be familiar. Parents of that time poured over The Eleventh Hour with their children trying to work out the many puzzles contained in the detailed pictures. It was days of looking and decoding which kept families busy.

Fans will all have their favourite Graeme Base book, but Animalia has been the most successful by far. Base has now brought us another offering to add to our collection and delight a new generation.

The Tree is a beautifully illustrated story about a cow, a duck and a tree. The cow loves to eat mooberries and the duck his mushquacks. Both are very happy in their own little domain until one day there is a storm. They then worry that they will lose their own space and go about protecting themselves from the world. But is this the best course of action or can they learn to live together?

Base has shown his experience as an illustrator and author. Both cow and duck are characters with which the reader can empathise, as Base’s illustrations are able to show emotions with just a look or turn of the head. The absurdity and unlikely behaviour of the animals strengthens the storyline. There is a lovely economy of words which tell the story with skill.

The best thing by far about Base’s books has to be his illustrations. Each one is a work of art with incredible detail and colour. The mood changes as the story evolves, shown by the deepening colour of the pictures. Even his front covers are always inviting.

Each of his books is targeted at a slightly different audience. This one is perfect for the preschool child and early-years reader.  It is a multilayered story about sharing. It is the kind of book to be treasured and kept on the shelf for generations to come.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: November 2020
RRP: $24.99

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