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APPLE AND MAGNOLIA by Laura Gehl Kirkus Star


by Laura Gehl ; illustrated by Patricia Metola

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-947888-35-7
Publisher: Flyaway Books

With support from Nana, Britta sets out to help one of her favorite trees heal.

Britta is a capable, vivacious girl who insists that her two favorite trees—Apple and Magnolia—are best friends. Exuberant artwork with vigorous brush strokes depicts brown-skinned, curly-haired Britta smiling up at her arboreal friends in the daytime and dancing near them as they sway at night. When Magnolia’s branches begin to droop, irresistible Britta, flanked by her pets, brainstorms ways to help Magnolia connect with Apple, measuring the distance between the trees as the months progress: She creates a cup-and-string telephone, knits an enormous scarf, and hangs a string of lights, all in a determined attempt to connect the two trees. Britta’s light-skinned, bespectacled Dad and her dark-skinned, plugged-in older sister, Bronwyn, are skeptical of Britta’s efforts. In an effective use of repetition, her father “nicely” rejects Britta’s ideas, and Bronwyn pooh-poohs everything with the qualifiers absolutely, positively. Wise, dark-skinned Nana encourages Britta by sharing wisdom, prompting ideas with questions, and joining in her tree-healing campaign. As the author’s note mentions, cutting-edge science underlies this seemingly whimsical story, and observant readers will notice that Britta’s observations, measurements, and data-keeping capture the scientific method in action. Nana’s assertions about the power of “unusual friendships” encourage readers to consider this heartwarming tale in both literal and figurative ways.

What’s not to love about this endearing and effervescent picture book?

(Picture book. 3-6)