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Title: Little Tree
Author/Illustrator: Loren Long
“In the middle of a little forest, there lives a Little Tree who loves his life and the splendid leaves that keep him cool in the heat of long summer days. Life is perfect just the way it is.
Autumn arrives, and with it the cool winds that ruffle Little Tree's leaves. One by one the other trees drop their leaves, facing the cold of winter head on. But not Little Tree—he hugs his leaves as tightly as he can. Year after year Little Tree remains unchanged, despite words of encouragement from a squirrel, a fawn, and a fox, his leaves having long since turned brown and withered. As Little Tree sits in the shadow of the other trees, now grown sturdy and tall as though to touch the sun, he remembers when they were all the same size. And he knows he has an important decision to make.”
Why I Loved It:
I was recently reminded of a paradoxical idea—All life is born out of darkness (Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts). When you stop and think about it, there is so much truth in those words.
Little Tree illustrates a closely related idea—You often have to let go to experience the fullness of life. This principle reminds me of the story of the young girl who cherished her cheap plastic pearl necklace too much. Little did she know what was in store for her when she was willing to let go of it. Read the full story here.
Isn’t that they way we often are? Holding on for dear life to something. Letting go can seem overwhelming and impossible, just as the dark times in life often seem like a burden. The other side of the dark though can be…life and blessing.
Little tree holds on to his browned leaves and refuses to go bare through the darkness and cold of the winter. For many seasons and years, he holds on tight to his dry, dead leaves, resulting in him remaining stagnant. When he finally looks around at the other trees, he realizes the cost of holding on.
I do not buy many picture books because I can check them out whenever I want at the library. However, this book is one I purchased for my personal library because of its profound and beautiful message.
First, I plan to use it with my writing classes. One of the biggest barriers I have each new year is the students coming in with preconceived notions of writing and themselves as a writer. These are usually built on false premises. They must be willing to let go of some things to grow in their writing skills.
Second, I plan to use it with my children. Being that they are teens, I know there are going to be moments of difficulty letting go. I want to have this book handy.
Finally, it is a reminder to myself. When I begin holding tight to things in life, I have to let go and to let God.
Like many other beloved picture books, such as The Giving Tree and Oh! The Places You Will Go, Little Tree has a message relevant for all ages. It is one we all need to be reminded of at times—we often must let go in order to move on or grow. This idea can be applied to many moments in life—graduations, losses, changing schools, learning new concepts, getting hurt by others, and many other life stages. What moment do you see yourself using this book for?