My Dad is a Tree by Jon Agee

My Dad is a Tree by Jon Agee – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: engaging, direct, subtle, thought-provoking.
Children’s book title: My Dad is a Tree.
Children’s author: Jon Agee.
Genre: Picture book.
Published by: Scallywag Press.
ISBN: 9781915252173.
Recommended for children aged: 4+ year-olds.
First published: Hardback May 2023.
This children’s book is ideal for: imaginative infants.

My Dad is a Tree by Jon Agee

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Our review:

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Madeleine stands in her garden, pretending to be a tree. Her father asks her what she’s up to and she persuades him to join her, ‘because a tree gets to stand outside all day long.’

As they stand there, a small owl flies down to perch on his arm. Then a robin starts to make a nest in his hair. Chicks land on his other outstretched arm and start chirruping away. Soon afterwards, a butterfly and a ladybird join the others. A spider spins its web under his arm. A squirrel stuffs an acorn into his shorts pocket. A kite gets tangled around his head. When it starts raining Madeleine gets an umbrella and stands on a ladder with her Dad, assuring him that trees don’t mind getting wet. They have to stand out there all night because these various creatures have made them their home and, as Madeleine explains, trees aren’t afraid of the dark or bothered by the rain.

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I read it with my five-year-old grandson, who is well used to books and these days probably leans a little more to moving images.

But he was really engaged by this. A trick I think all writers for children have to appreciate is how to reveal the illogical, eccentric and absurd side to life and people. I’m sure very young children are wired to see this, and it’s only the pressures of the conformity-world which squeezes it out of them.

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The drawings are straightforward and direct, but also subtle. We were able to discuss how a slight change of shape or direction of the characters’ eyes made a difference to what they appeared to be thinking. And we are both now experts in drawing rain!

Many thanks to Scallywag Press for the review copy.

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Browse our list of books for KS1.

About Laurence Inman

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Laurence is an actor, poet, short-story writer, playwright, screenwriter, cartoonist, public speaker, retired lecturer, and former English teacher. IMDb | Linkedin | Reviews by Laurence Inman