The boy and the cherry tree by Mark Sommerset; illustrated by Rowan Sommerset (2013)

IMG_1189Never underestimate the ability of a picture book to say exactly what you need to hear. So, I’ve made a pretty major decision recently. I’m leaving libraries and next year will study to become a primary school teacher. It’s a big deal, and has caused me more than a few anxious moments already. This magical picture book reminded me that it’s so easy to prioritise safety and security over risk-taking, and you might then miss out on something wonderful.

Luckily lots of fabulous people around me have been very encouraging, and my wise husband said, “What’s the worst that could happen?” We work-shopped that idea for a while and came to the conclusion, nothing very terrible.

My favourite comment so far was by a friend, Julie, who looked delighted and then her smile vanished and she said, “But you will keep doing your blog won’t you?” Thanks Julie and yes I’m determined to make it to 365 days! On that note I will stop talking about me, and finally tell you about this amazing book.

Mark and Rowan Sommerset are an inspirational New Zealand couple who write, illustrate, design and publish their own picture books. Their creations regularly win awards and appear in top book lists. Check out this truly splendid video of their lives (although I should warn you, if you’re of a jealous disposition, do NOT watch this).IMG_1193

The boy and the cherry tree tells of a boy who lives on the other side of the river from a cherry tree. More than anything he wants to swing in its branches and eat its fruit. He makes a plan to swim across the river and as he gets in position a small bird says to him, “Across the river… won’t the current be too strong?” The bird’s suggestion that he could build a boat seems sensible so the boy starts work. Only he doesn’t know how to build a boat and as time passes, the cherries fall from the branches of the tree. A variation of this pattern repeats itself each year, until finally the boy returns to the river to discover the cherry tree has been cut down. Without stopping to think he dives into the water, and what finally greets him is better than he could ever have dreamed.

This is a brilliant book for sharing with a class, leading to all sorts of discussion about taking risks. Actually on that note it’s perfect for anyone of any age needing a little push. The illustrations and paper (complete with a lovely tactile aspect) are gorgeous. This is a truly great book, that is in the super-highly recommended category from me!

Check out The boy in the cherry tree at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy The boy in the cherry tree from Fishpond.

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