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Friday, May 25, 2018

Albert's Tree, written and illustrated by Jenni Desmond. Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House, 2018. $21.99 ages 4 and up

"My tree is crying. I'm trying to cheer it up," said Albert. "Well, when I'm sad, I eat grass," said Caribou. So Albert and Caribou gathered lots of grass. "We've brought you some grass, Tree," said Albert. "Please cheer up." But the tree just kept wailing. Why is your tree crying, Albert?" said Squirrel. "I don't know," said Albert with a sigh."

Seasons come and go, and there is much to like about each one of them. We all know bears sleep in the winter, and awaken in the spring with a need for food and perhaps even friendship.

Albert is no exception. In spring, he races to his favorite place in the forest - his tree. Albert loves its branches, its beauty, its secluded spot and its serenity. Perched on its most comfortable branch, Albert is suddenly aware that there is a noise coming from his tree. It is crying ... no, wailing!

But, everything about the tree is just as Albert remembers it. He begins to inspect it from every angle, and remains puzzled by the noise. Rabbit hops up, with a question and a suggestion. Might digging holes help? Nope, the crying does not cease. Caribou wonders about grass. Grass always makes Caribou happy. Second failure! The tree just keeps howling!

Albert begs it to stop. Nothing helps, until Albert thinks about what makes him happy. He asks a whispery question, and the tree is finally able to explain why it is sad.

"Because I'm scared of the big hairy monster."

Only then does Bear realize that their is another creature in residence in the tree with a reasonable fear, and he knows just what to do.

Artwork is created in mixed media, and makes for a grand read. The endpapers offer up a special treat. Jenni Desmond's use of texture, white space, and bold color keep readers in constant contact with the soft, gentle bear that is full of love for his tree. You just want to reach out and give him a hug. My grandgirls are going to love it!

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