The Tremendous Pagoda Tree of Martha’s Vineyard
written by: Amy MacDougall
illustrated by: Nicole Gsell
The Tremendous Pagoda Tree of Martha’s Vineyard illustrates the history of the famous tree from Edgartown, MA for which the book is named. It is affectionately told by a mother to her daughter, about the life of a tree-its journey-from a little sapling in the Orient to its home in Martha’s Vineyard in the USA. It addresses two people who lived far apart on a shared Earth many years ago, yet formed a friendship which the Pagoda tree symbolizes and celebrates to this day!
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
When this book first caught my eye… I passed over it. The cover didn’t appeal to me at all and the title seemed really long for a children’s book. You know the old saying… don’t judge a book by its cover? Yep – it certainly applies to this book!
The story is great. It gently leads the reader from today’s world, into the world… way back then… before crayons even! I love how the author relayed historical information. She describes that time as being one before cars, trucks and airplanes BUT most importantly… it was a time before CRAYONS. She never forgets who her audience is and her method is really effective in holding the interest of a child and making things relatable to them.
The illustrations are fabulous. I know how important illustrations are to a reader (or a listener, more likely) with this type of book. The pictures tell at least half of the story and they are responsible for really making the book something special and magical.
The illustrator, Nicole Gsell, certainly did not disappoint. The pictures are beautiful, done with vibrant watercolours. What caught my eye… the illustrations were done not only with watercolor but I could also see what appeared to be collaged pieces within the artwork. My suspicions proved correct… as explained at the end of the book, collage materials were used. This combination was really effective, especially to form the beautiful Asian clothing material and décor items. Another thing I love about the illustrations… there are lots of little ‘finds’ within the pictures… those little details that matter so much because you know the kids are watching and picking them out while Mom or Dad reads them that special bedtime story!
There is only one reason I am not giving this book a five-star rating. I am underwhelmed by the cover, especially when the illustrations contained within are so fabulous. If not for that one thing – it would have made it easy for me to award a five-star rating. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but people certainly do! I almost passed this book by because the cover and title didn’t thrill me.
One more note… I love how a real photograph was shown of the actual Pagoda Tree of Martha’s Vineyard. Included is information and details about the tree and it’s uniqueness. By the end of this book – I realized that I hope to be able to visit this special tree in person some day, I bet the same will happen to you.
This book is available from the publisher Lychee Books.