Robert Vescio (text), Cheri Hughes (illus.), Ella Saw the Tree, Big Sky Publishing, 1 May 2017, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781925520361
Ella is a busy girl. There is a lot to do in her backyard and many adventures to be had. She doesn’t have time to be bored. One day, Ella sees a tree in her backyard and is surprised she has not noticed it before. With its falling leaves, Ella is convinced the tree must be crying. She busies herself finding ways to cheer up the sad tree. That night, Ella’s mind is too busy to sleep. She frets over the tree and what she can do to help it. Seeing her daughter’s despair, Ella’s mother encourages her to slow down and focus on her senses. By doing this, Ella is able to appreciate the moment she is experiencing.
Though she has a wonderful imagination, Ella does not take the time to pay attention to something like an ordinary tree in her back yard. This tale shows Ella, and younger readers, not just that it is good to pay attention, but how to pay attention. Ella Saw the Tree serves as an introduction for children to mindfulness practices. Author Robert Vescio’s words invite children to be present in the moment by connecting with their senses, their surroundings, and with nature.
Vesico’s tale of Ella’s beautiful and her busy days are complimented by Cheri Hughes’ watercolour illustrations. The pictures are colourful and capture the sensory journey Ella embarks upon.
A story with an important message, Ella Saw The Tree is recommended for children of all ages, as well as their parents.
Reviewed by Fiona Miller-Stevens