There is nothing quite like a book with some really good tree lore in it. Trees have always been a source of awe and inspiration for people, inspiring a sense of intense calm and mystery with their age, stillness, and connection to forces of nature that human beings simply cannot understand. As such, there are some amazing fantasy and science-fiction works that incorporate the magic of trees into their worldbuilding. Sometimes, these trees are characters – as with the Ents of Lord of the Rings – other times, they are life sources, as in James Cameron’s Avatar. Here are three books for different reading levels that incorporate trees in some way or another.
The Overstory by Richard Powers. This novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, was a very popular Peak Pick until very recently before libraries closed for the pandemic, and it remains a very popular E-Book now that it is available only online. It is compiled of a series of stories which take place over hundreds of years across America, and are all interconnected in some way – namely, in their connection to the trees and the natural world that is unfolding all around them all along. Its own synopsis describes it as an “impassioned work of activism” insofar as it encourages readers to think about man-made threats to the natural world – the world of the trees – in a new and, hopefully, actionable way.
The Fox and the Star by Caroline Bickford-Smith. A completely different flavor, The Fox and the Star is a children’s tale about a Fox who is lost in a dark forest, and the Star he befriends that helps him find his way. When one day the Star disappears, Fox decides that he will have to go find his friend – and to do so means stepping outside of the world he knows to go on a scary but inspiring new journey. While trees are not the centerpiece of this story’s folklore, they nonetheless provide the magical setting which allows it to take place, as demonstrated by the beautiful illustrations from William Blake that accompany the Bickford-Smith’s words.
Wildwood by Colin Meloy. A crazy fantastic children’s book from the lead singer of Portland’s indie rock band The Decemberists, Wildwood is an homage not only to trees but to childhood, crows, imagination, and the Pacific Northwest. It tells the story of what happens when a girl named Prue McKeel finds her little brother suddenly abducted by a murder of crows. She and her friend Curtis decide they have no choice but to travel into the Impassable Wilderness (a.k.a., the woods outside Portland), to try and get him back. Little do they know that they will discover a magical (and silly) world full of mystical creatures and people where much larger, mysterious, and dangerous things are afoot.
~ Posted by Hannah P.