I shared this powerful picturebook last week with a group of teachers, and the story brought us to tears. A young girl lives in a “mean and hard and ugly” city. The people who live there are just as mean and hard and ugly as their city. One day the girl tries to steal a bag from an old lady, which, unbeknownst to her, is filled with acorns. The lady makes her promise “to plant them” if she lets go. These acorns, along with the girl’s promise to plant them, transform her existence. The girl is resilient and patient, planting and waiting. Finally, trees grow, inviting people to wonder and smile together. Soon the people join in the planting, and green spreads “through the city like a song, breathing to the sky, drawing down the rain like a blessing.” Nicola Davies, a zoologist who is known for her nonfiction animal texts, surprised me with this touching realistic fiction story.
Here is what I love about this amazing book for upper elementary, middle school, high school and teacher audiences:
- Davies’ use of language and imagery is absolutely gorgeous and poetic.
- The use of symbolism is very powerful. I found many parallels to the teaching field.
- The book is illustrator Laura Carlin’s first picturebook.
- The illustrations by Laura Carlin go from dark and dreary to bright and colorful.
- The pages are filled with small illustrative details that extend the story.
- The words “the promise” and “my promise” are in cursive, prompting some deep thinking in the group of teachers that I shared this book with.
To read more about this book of hope and promise, visit Donna McKinnon’s blog at “32 Pages.” She writes extensively about The Promise in a post on July 29, 2014: http://32pages.ca/
To learn more about the author, visit her website at: http://www.nicola-davies.com/
To learn more about the illustrator, visit her website at: http://lauracarlin.blogspot.com/
Below are some of my favorite Nicola Davies books.
Lift the Flap Books:
Nature Poems Organized by the Seasons: