Thursday 26 July 2012

The Magnificent Tree

The Magnificent Tree The Magnificent Tree by Nick Bland, illustrated by Stephen Michael King (Scholastic Press)
HB RRP  $24.99
ISBN 978 174283 295 1
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Bonny and her Pop have many ideas. Bonny’s ideas are simple and clever. Pop's are brave and brilliant. And when the birds they are trying to attract keep flying away they each have their own ideas about how to solve this. Although they approach the problem in their individual ways, it is together that they create a magnificent solution.

This is a story about ideas, big and small. The text is alive, beautiful and strong. It is not a rhyming text, yet still captures a lovely rhythm that makes it a joy to read aloud: 'They tinkered through summer, and toiled through autumn.'

The repetition of Bonny’s ideas being 'simple, clever and properly made' while Pop's are 'big, brave and brilliant' is subtle and runs through the story emphasising the differences between their approaches to ideas.

This is mirrored in the wonderful and clever illustrations. They do not merely accompany the words but tell as much of the story as the text does. The spaciousness and simplicity of the illustrations hold the text and the reader really sees how Pop's ideas are so big that they do not fit in his head. We see how Bonny nurtures her simple idea. The emotions and personalities of these two characters are conveyed beautifully. The expression on Pop's face when his brilliantly made wings fail, says it all. These qualities play a large part in the appeal of this gorgeous book.

I loved this quirky, comical and fresh look at a close, comfortable and fun relationship between a girl and her grandfather. I think it will become a favourite for many young children. Bonny and Pop feel like real people and I hope they have more magnificent ideas together.

Nick Bland is a bestselling author and illustrator. His books include The Very Cranky Bear (2008), the wonderfully funny The Aunties Three (2011), and The Wrong Book which was named an Honour Book by the CBCA in 2010.

Stephen Michael King has illustrated more than 15 books for Scholastic. His books include The Man Who Loved Boxes which won the Family Award for Children's Books in 1996 and was shortlisted in the Crichton Award for Children's Book Illustration, Mutt Dog! (2004), Leaf (2008) and You (2010).

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