a tree! a Poem by Klara Kottner-Benigni and published as an exquisitely illustrated picture book by Katha Books, seems to accomplish a two-fold purpose. On one level, it is a simple story with a deep message- that of saving a tree. The message is for young children, and hence written in a direct and appealing manner that will immediately resonate with children.
At another level, it serves to showcase the brilliance of Indian tribal art. The motif of the tree is sacred to all our indigenous tribes. After all, who could be more rooted to nature that these groups? The tree is portrayed in different expressions. Madhubani, Warli, Kurumba, Bhil and Gond art forms present their own unique takes on the tree.The book is also available in Hindi…
What remains constant however, is the reverence towards the tree. As one turns over the pages of the book one gets a sense of the kind of abundant life a tree supports in its bosom. But alas, there is a cry for survival. Fortunately, there is a lot that even a young child can do to save trees. In the final part of the book, simple steps show the child how little steps can lead on to something big.
In a sense, the book presents two big ideas to little children. The first is the idea of conservation, afforestation, and the dangers of cutting down trees. The second idea pertains to the richness of our indigenous art forms.
As the child turns the page, not only will she be delighted in the intricate and minute detailing of each image, but will also learn about some key features of particular styles of painting. Of course, the simple and highly readable text gives the message of conservation quite aptly.
a tree! BFL suggests…
Read the book through the first time with the child, so she gets the basic theme. Consequently, focus on the paintings that have been produced on each page. At the end of the book, there is information on the varied schools of art that these paintings adhere to. Share a nugget or two with the child, and make the experience of reading the book more meaningful!
a tree! by Klara Kottner-Benigni provides a gentle nudge to young readers, opening their minds and hearts, just like a good book should do!
Title: a tree!
Author: by Klara Kottner-Benigni
Publisher: Katha Books
Genre: Picture Books
Age group: 3-7
You may also like another series by Katha, that talks about exile: https://www.bookedforlife.in/books-and-ideas/portraits-of-exile-by-aaniya-asrani/