Saturday 13 October 2012

The Wattle Tree

The Wattle Tree 
The Wattle Tree by John Bell, illustrated by Ben Wood (Lothian/Hachette)
HB RRP $28.99
ISBN: 97807334412911
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie

The Wattle Tree is a charming first picture book by Bell about the grieving process. Molly's grandmother has passed away and she and her mother miss her very much. Molly's mother can't bear to talk about her and so Molly has to find a way of coping.

Molly discovers the old straw hat which Grandma wore still holds her special scent, so Molly wears it and goes out into the garden which Grandma often watered. She continues down to the creek and the wattle tree there reminds her of Grandma and the sprigged dress she often wore. Molly begins to feel happy and sits for ages with her feet dangling in the creek thinking about Grandma.

She hugs her secret to herself for a long time, watching the wattle tree turn from green to golden, and keeping her Grandma's memory alive. But one day she catches her mum crying in the kitchen missing Grandma, and Molly feels it is time to share her secret.

The illustrations of Ben Wood capture perfectly the sensitivity of the story, all soft watercolour washes and fine outlines. The gold of the wattle tree is replicated on the inside covers and despite the topic, the story is uplifting and happy. It would make a wonderful gift for young children missing a departed grandparent.

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