Book Title: The Last Tree (available here)
Author/Illustrator: Emily Haworth-Booth
Publisher: Pavilion Children’s Books
Publication Date: Feb 2020
Most Suitable For: Years 1-6
Reviewed By: Carol Carter
The Last Tree is an eco-fable for our times, with themes of nature, community and listening to the voices of the young. “Once upon a time, a group of friends were looking for a place to live” – they find a tree, then a forest and make a happy community. However, what begins as building a few cabins and a fire to warm themselves, gradually develops into an insatiable use of all the wood and the construction of a high fence to keep out the wind. Only one last tree remains. The children of each family are told to go and cut it down for their family, quickly, before the neighbours do. But here the children rebel, and we end on an uplifting note of hope for the future, as the fence is dismantled and a new forest planted. Printed on recycled paper, and with pictures in soft pencil shading and muted colours reminiscent of John Burningham’s work, the look of the book suits the style and important message of the tale. I did find it sad, and slightly simplistic, how quickly the adults change, with no voice of dissent. But, as with fables, generally, the moral message is hammered home and it is one none of us can argue with.
The Last Tree could be useful with all primary age groups, for example in assembly, as the message is accessible to KS1 while leaving room for discussion and debate in KS2.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Carol for reviewing it.
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