Saturday, 21 March 2020

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree by Katrina McKelvey, Prue Pittock (EK Books)
RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925820379

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

McKelvey has written a book that sensitively explores family, belonging and change with such heart and warmth. This story links family trees to the addition of new babies entering a family and where they belong within a family.

Isla created family trees for her family and her Aunt’s families on her Mum’s side to learn about where she belongs in her own family and her new baby brothers. This helped her see that just as trees grow and change, so do families. Isla at first thought that the new babies could each go into her aunt’s families as her own family tree was full. But once her brothers arrived, Isla knew that they really did belong in her own family. She then made room for her brothers to fit on the family tree that she had made. Isla saw that change happens in all families.

I particularly like the dialogue which allows the story to speak simply and clearly to a child. Katrina’s use of questioning allows the child protagonist to think and discover for herself not only her place within her family but her new baby brothers, too. This is supported beautifully with thought bubbles. Isla draws upon her own memories and feelings during the story. I can see this book being a springboard for children drawing or making their own family trees.  

I love the simplicity of the illustrations and the clever use of white space as the background for each spread. The use of simple line work and patterns allows the visual story to add multiple layers of meaning to the text. The family trees show how they are all linked. This visually speaks volumes to a child. The limited colour palette allows the characters and their activities to shine without cluttering the story.


This is a story that will be enjoyed by children 3-8 years from all sorts of diverse families. It will be well received by families and schools. It is a good fit within the school curriculum and will be a great resource for teachers, too.by Katrina McKelvey, Prue Pittock (EK Books)
RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925820379

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

McKelvey has written a book that sensitively explores family, belonging and change with such heart and warmth. This story links family trees to the addition of new babies entering a family and where they belong within a family.

Isla created family trees for her family and her Aunt’s families on her Mum’s side to learn about where she belongs in her own family and her new baby brothers. This helped her see that just as trees grow and change, so do families. Isla at first thought that the new babies could each go into her aunt’s families as her own family tree was full. But once her brothers arrived, Isla knew that they really did belong in her own family. She then made room for her brothers to fit on the family tree that she had made. Isla saw that change happens in all families.

I particularly like the dialogue which allows the story to speak simply and clearly to a child. Katrina’s use of questioning allows the child protagonist to think and discover for herself not only her place within her family but her new baby brothers, too. This is supported beautifully with thought bubbles. Isla draws upon her own memories and feelings during the story. I can see this book being a springboard for children drawing or making their own family trees.  

I love the simplicity of the illustrations and the clever use of white space as the background for each spread. The use of simple line work and patterns allows the visual story to add multiple layers of meaning to the text. The family trees show how they are all linked. This visually speaks volumes to a child. The limited colour palette allows the characters and their activities to shine without cluttering the story.

This is a story that will be enjoyed by children 3-8 years from all sorts of diverse families. It will be well received by families and schools. It is a good fit within the school curriculum and will be a great resource for teachers, too.

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