Tuesday 7 May 2024


Tree by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Jess Racklyeft (Allen & Unwin) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN: 9781761069505

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera 

Somewhere deep in a misty mountain forest, a towering tree rises above the canopy. From its roots to its leaves, it’s connected to and cares for a cacophony of creatures. ‘Between sapwood and heartwood, water rises and energy flows. The tree grows.’ Days and nights pass, and the tree endures … even when wildfires scorch the earth. When its time comes, it will fall to the forest floor. But for now, ‘the tree stands tall’.

Interweaving information and imagination, Claire Saxby draws children aged five to eight deep into Australia’s dense bushland. As a ‘lyrebird scritch-scratches’ and ‘centipedes scurry’ while a nearby ‘silver wattle shivers’, readers see, hear and feel what it’s like to live in this luscious landscape. Claire’s lyrical language sings of beauty in knowledge, and benefit in conservation.

Bright hues burst from Jess Racklyeft’s brilliant illustrations. From the fresh green of the foliage to the oozy ochre of the soil and the chill indigo stretching across the midnight sky, each alluring colour choice exudes authenticity. Youngsters will adore the fold-out page that brings the striking height of the tree to life, and they’ll spend hours investigating every intriguing detail.

This profound picture book introduces kids to the importance of trees in the ecosystem, and gently reminds them of the value of environmental protection. The heartfelt synthesis between words and images ensures that the message is uniquely uplifting.

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