I love it! I love it! I love it!
Uma Krishnaswami's very clever juxtaposition of the growth of "a baby tree" into a giant with outspread branches, along with that of a dusty village path transforming into a busy thoroughfare.
A boy nurtures a tiny sapling in the middle of a dusty path, even as people rush past shouting, Out of the Way! Out of the Way! quite oblivious of the tree.
Rich imagery gives the book an almost poetic feel,
"Meanwhile, the feet of all the people, and the wheels of carts and bicycles
rushing there and back again, rutted and drummed and pounded the lane
until it flowed like a river around the tree, getting out of its way, out of its way."
As the tree grows, so does the road. A bustling city grows around it. One can almost feel the palpable frenzy of traffic snarls and people rushing. However, a happy ending to the story - as people sometimes "stop and stay awhile....and listen." The story works at an adult level as well. An almost allegorical feel, it reminds us that even in the midst of the hullabaloo of life one should stand quiet, strong and unaffected like the tree.
Rich visual imagery and repetitive refrains will go down well with a child.
The illustrations are brilliant. Simple folk-style art, well-balanced colour washes interspersed with black and white drawings and meticulous detailing effectively denoting the passage of time. The many interesting vignettes within each illustration will have the child want to go back to the book again and again, each time discovering some little nuances of details that they may have overlooked.
My only wish is that as children may not be familiar with the flycatcher bird mentioned in the story, it should have been either clearly llustrated or another more familiar bird subsituted for it.
A two thumb's up story!
This book is also available in: Hindi, Marathi, Gujrati, Bangla, Tamil, Telugu, Malyalam, Kannada