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Posted November 8, 2005
Now and again there comes along a book for children that is destined for the Caldecott and Newberry Awards, so rich it is in imagination, in thoughtful grounding of values, in solid concepts such as repetition of numbers and phrases that it is destined to be a book from which children will learn far more than the story, and in first class illustrations. FATHER LIKE A TREE simply has it all and it is difficult to believe that this is author Matthew S. Field's first venture into children's literature. Whatever the factors that make his book so successful pale in the proof of the final product. This book stands solidly on its own as a premiere children's book. The main character of this gentle story is the tree, the father figure, who serves as the matrix for the 'characters' that populate its branches. The tale is deceptively simple: a mother bird finds her tree, builds her nest, hatches three eggs into chicks, gathers food for her family, and eventually weans them from their nest to enter the world to make the life cycle begin again. All the elements of parenting and parental love and nurturing are here. But also Field wisely repeats numbers, deeds, goals, and precepts so that the fortunate child hearing this story learns numbers, division, dependence, maternal care and the ultimate launching into a life seen to be secure and safe. The illustrations by artist Tom Hedderich (also his first foray into children's literature) are richly colorful, tenderly supportive of any child's possible acrophobic tendencies, and fun and apropos of the story. This is one of the finest children's books to be released in a while and certainly is one that every parent, grandparent, or anyone who loves to read to children should buy. Highly recommended! Just watch it succeed! Grady Harp
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Posted November 1, 2010
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