The Last Tree

The Last Tree
Emily Haworth-Booth
Pavilion Books

Trees are one of our planet’s greatest assets in the fight against climate change, so why oh why are the grownups in The Last Tree so careless in their use of this precious resource?

We first meet them when they’re searching for a suitable place to live and they spy their first tree; it’s part of a forest. They enjoy the summer living among the trees and sleeping outdoors.

Come winter they start cutting down a few branches for firewood but this leaves space for the rain to come through and extinguish their fire.

With each new season the loss of the trees creates further problems provoking yet more trees to be lost culminating with the construction of …

Now only one spindly specimen remains.

Inevitably with no view except their wall, the villagers become inward, self-obsessed and thoroughly disenchanted. Instead of a happy community they distrust one another and the adults in every family covet that single remaining tree sending their children to harvest it.

With axes in hand the children creep beyond the wall but in the joy of seeing one another they quickly forget their purpose. Rather than cutting down that tree they care for it, watching it thrive and grow, bringing instead planks to their parents who use them for barricading themselves in their homes.

Even so the wind comes blowing down the fences and out rush the adults to discover …

In the bright daylight they recall the good times and understand their foolishness.
Time to make a fresh start: and so it is that the last tree becomes the first of a brand new forest.

A timely parable of the destruction of the natural world and its effect on our planet’s climate, made all the more effective by Emily’s hugely potent graphics rendered in shades of green and grey.

As in our ‘extinction rebellion’ times, here too it’s children who have the imagination to become the agents of change.

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