Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Old Tree

The Old Tree

Ruth Brown
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Candlewick, 1971   ISBN: 978-0763634612

It is early in the morning and Pigeon Post is delivering mail to the creatures who live in the Old Tree. Pigeon notices that a large X has been painted on the tree's trunk. Busy Mrs. Rabbit, who has just had her seventeenth baby, is far too busy to notice such things and she has no idea what the X means. Mr. Badger is in too grumpy a mood to discuss the X with Pigeon. Mr. Squirrel has no idea why the X is there either, and as for Mr. Woodpecker, well Pigeon does not even attempt to speak to him. He is making far too much noise. Professor Owl has not ventured outside because he hates the sunshine, so he doesn't know anything about the X. Even curious Maggie the Magpie doesn't know why there is an X painted on her tree home. Pigeon tells Captain Crow, who lives at the top of the tree, about the X and when Captain Crow looks about with his telescope he sees something very disturbing. He knows what the X means and it very bad news indeed.

In a moment Crow flies down to where all the residents in the Old Tree are standing, looking up at the X. Quickly he tells all the animals what he has just seen – men cutting down a tree which has a big white X painted on it. Those men are going to cut down the Old Tree! Can the animals do something to save their precious home.

In this lovely book Ruth Brown not only tells an engaging story, but she also shows her audience that trees provide all kinds of creatures with a home. A tree is a vital habitat for lots of different animals giving them shelter and food. In addition Ruth Brown shows her readers how important it is to work together when you need to get something essential done in a short period of time. The animals in the story might not always get along and they might complain about each other at times, but when their beloved tree is threatened, they work together to find a way to save their homes.

With lovely detailed illustrations and a pop-up surprise on the last double page spread, this is a picture book which is both informative and which also, very unassumingly, conveys some important ideas to the young children who read it.