How I Learned to Fall Out of Trees
Vincent X. Kirsch
Abrams Books for Young Readers
Saying goodbye to a close friend is always hard especially when they’re moving away as Adelia is in this story.
She however, has planned a special farewell gift for Roger, which she delivers before she departs. It’s a lesson in how to climb a tree and, since Roger is a worrier, how to fall out safely.
She starts by collecting all kinds of memorabilia: leaves, feathers, abandoned nests,
rugs and cushions, favourite toys,
boxes and clothing.
All these memory-laden articles are shown on the verso of the spreads while on each recto, we see the two sharing their remaining time together with Amelia instructing her friend and demonstrating how to get up into the tree’s branches: “Shimmy up the trunk and don’t turn back” … “Hang on tight with both hands” … “take it one branch at a time” and as we’d expect, finally, “Letting go will be the hardest part!’
When the time comes for Roger to make that solo climb just after his friend’s departure, he scales up easily
but then inevitably … falls.
Thanks to Amelia’s carefully and lovingly compiled construction though, he does so beaming from ear to ear.
Kirsh’s story is as carefully constructed as Amelia’s landing pile while the expressive illustrations are nicely detailed: and the girl’s instructions to her friend could equally well be what she needs to tell herself too.