The Dreaming Tree by Jo Oliver (New Frontier Publishing)
HB RRP $24.99
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
The Dreaming Tree is a beautiful book. It is filled with wonderfully rhythmic free verse poetry, accompanied by soft dreamlike illustrations and a strong feeling of the Australian landscape.
The opening poem - from the title The Dreaming Tree – sets the tone of memories, childhood and nature which the rest of the poems in the book go on to explore. They are not all soft and dreamy. Some are rollicking like The Wind, and Children Playing. Some are informative - such as Rock, some are meditative like The River, while others such as Picking Peas recall times past. This diversity of theme sits well alongside the wonderful mix of metaphors and similes with more straight forward images. There is just enough subtlety to get young children thinking without being too obscure or talking down to this audience.
This is a poetry book that the reader can become totally immersed in. The muted, soft colours of the illustrations and their earthy watermarked backgrounds enhance the feeling of the Australian setting. The paintings are beautiful and evoke an emotional response in the same way that the poetry does. They also still allow the reader to create their own imagery in response to the words.
At the end, in the author’s reflection, Oliver writes, ‘Poetry is feeling and thought playing together in words.’ This is very successfully done within these pages.
A hardback book, with thick, glossy pages and accessible poetry, this is a beautiful package for all ages to enjoy.