Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Review - I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree

I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree

by Jean E. Pendziwol
illustrated by Nathalie Dion
Date: 2020
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

The child in this story observes the sun by playing with her shadow, though sometimes it disappears. She listens to the wind tell stories, even when it howls like wolves. She tastes snowflakes — sometimes sweet and delicate; other times sharp on her cheeks. And finally, she finds hope in the buds on a cherry tree that survive through the winter to blossom in spring.

Jean E. Pendziwol has written a layered, lyrical exploration of the hardships and beauties of nature. Her poem, beautifully illustrated by Nathalie Dion, is a study in contrasts and a message of the hope that carries us through the year and through our lives.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Well, that was pretentious.

I can't see kids getting much out of the narrative here. This might work in a high school or university setting, where literature snobs can gleefully pick apart the nuances and meaning of the text. But for kids?

I found hope
in a cherry tree
that places tiny buds
on shivering,
leaf-bare branches in autumn,
knowing that
can disappear,
and stories
can howl like wolves,
and snowflakes
can be icy and sharp,
and there is no way
for the tree to be sure
that the buds will
ever bloom.

The illustrations are nice. But I can't see most kids sitting still for this. There's no story to speak of. It's just a kid spouting pretentious free-verse poetry steeped in metaphor.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2 out of 5

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