Monday 23 August 2021

Horace and the Hugging Trees

Horace and the Hugging Trees by Tina Cardillo (Ocean Reeve Publishing) PB HB RRP $19.99 ISBN 978 1 922461186

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Horace is a curious and brave little owl who travels to another place to learn how to help save his own neglected planet.


Tina Cardillo introduces the story problem in the opening sentence. My name is Horace and I live in the No Sun City, on a sad and sick planet.  We immediately know the main character, the setting, and the problem. Horace can see that things need to change on his planet when no one else can. Cardillo’s words clearly show the reader the contrast between a sick planet and a healthy one. She uses the repeat sentence starts of ‘I see’ and ‘I hear’ in parts of the book. I see a sign that says, ‘This Way’ to the school of fun. I follow a line of rainbow caterpillars. My favourite part in the story is when the whispering trees share their wisdom with Horace. The takeaway message is that the environment can be helped and healed. The end sentence leaves the reader with hope and positivity. A new journey for our planet has just begun! The back matter has questions that can be used by teachers to promote discussion about the book. I love how Cardillo has created a small hero, Horace, who champions hope for the environment.


The illustrations in the book help create the mood and emotion for each page. When all is sad in No Sun City the colours are dark and gloomy. When the mood is upbeat the colours are bright and happy. There are lots of details on each page with lots of movement with animals and children. I particularly like the double page spread with the children and animals hugging the trees. Horace as a character is endearing and appealing for children to love.


Horace and the Hugging Trees is a picture book for children 5-8 years that encourages children to love and care for our environment. This is the first book in a series that Cardillo is creating for schools to use in environmental education.

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