My Favorite Children’s Book This Year Has No Words

Posted April 3, 2024 by Richetta in Book Reviews, Children's Books / 0 Comments

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I received this book for free from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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My Favorite Children’s Book This Year Has No WordsThe Tree and the River by Aaron Becker
Published by Candlewick Press on March 14, 2023
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / Historical / General, Juvenile Fiction / Science & Nature / Environment, Juvenile Fiction / Science Fiction / Time Travel, Juvenile Fiction / Visionary & Metaphysical
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Source: Candlewick Press
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A spectacular time-lapse portrait of humankind—and our impact on the natural world—from a Caldecott Honor–winning master of the wordless form

In an alternate past—or possible future—a mighty tree stands on the banks of a winding river, bearing silent witness to the flow of time and change. A family farms the fertile valley. Soon, a village sprouts, and not long after, a town. Residents learn to harness the water, the wind, and the animals in order to survive and thrive. The growing population becomes ever more industrious and clever, bending nature itself to their will and their ambition: redirecting rivers, harvesting lumber, reshaping the land, even extending daylight itself. . . .

The Tree and the River is an epic time-lapse reimagining of human civilization from a master of the wordless form, and a thought-provoking meditation on the relationship between two mighty forces: nature and humankind.

Review: The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker

The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker is a book with no words. But the more you “read” it the more you find and learn. I was a little apprehensive at first, but when I did the second “read” with my son I was blown away by how much more I imagined was being told through the images. This is one of my favorite picture books of the year. 

Through one lone tree and its deep roots you witness centuries of growth and change along one river. Things start simple, get complicated and then return to its simple beginning. My son said, “I feel like this book should’ve been called the Circle of Life.” 

This book inspired so much deep thinking. I noticed something different each time, whether you are following the shape of the river, the movement of the people or the construction of the buildings. I found myself flipping back and forth between pages to catch all of the subtle differences and comparing the images together. Let’s just say if you like if you are the kind of person who likes the ‘find the difference’ puzzles you may end up spending a lot of time with this book. 

The Tree and the River is great for all levels of readers. It will generate lots of discussion. I would recommend it in a social studies course that talks about environmentalism and developing civilizations. This would be a great book for Earth Day too! Aaron Becker has another book that just came out called, The Last Zookeeper, and I can’t wait to “read” that one too!

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