This book is the opposite of the book I call "The Selfish Book," about the tree who gives and gives and gives and the boy who takes and takes and takes. While I adore almost all things Shel Silverstein, "The Giving Tree" is a book that is the antithesis of giving -- it's all about greed.
"Maple," on the other hand, is truly about giving. When Maple was born, her parents planted a tree -- a maple, of course -- for Maple to have for her own. Maple and the tree slowly mature together.
Maple doesn't take from her tree, though. She doesn't get maple syrup from it. Instead, she plays with it (although trees can be difficult to play with), she loves it and she even tries to keep it warm during a cold winter:
"Then one day, Maple noticed her tree was bare. Maple was worried her tree might get cold. So Maple took off her jacket...and gave it to the tree to stay warm."
And as talented as the artist Nichols is, the writer Nichols is just as brilliant. She uses figurative language beautifully and the plot is simple, yet complex in feeling and imagery.
Maple is a wonderful character -- loving, kind and thoughtful. And when she has a sister, she knows her maple tree will give her inspiration and help her with her baby sister, Willow, and Willow's tree, too.
There are many uses for this book in the primary classroom and even the intermediate classroom. It's a great picture book to introduce a unit on seeds or plants. It's also a book about seasons and about character.
For more intermediate classes, using this book with "The Giving Tree" would be a wonderful way to introduce students to the process of writing compare/contrast essays, a requirement in the new Common Core State Standards. Picture books make the task of introducing new topics easier than using more difficult texts.
But also enjoy "Maple" just for the lovely illustrations and the brilliant use of color and white space. Nichols is a very talented artist, and the colors in the picture book sing. The maple leaves have wonderful texture, and it's all so very visually pleasing that you will find yourself reading and rereading this story for many reasons and in many seasons.
This lovely and thoughtful picture book is sure to become a classic. Buy one for your favorite youngster. Buy one for your favorite teacher. And buy one for yourself to enjoy!
Please note: This review is based on the F&G copy provided by the author for review purposes.
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