As you can only imagine, Nick Bland and Stephen Michael King make a STELLAR team. Together, they have created a book that warms your heart from beginning to end. The Magnificent Tree is not only a celebration of the relationship between a child and grandparent, but also a lesson in nurturing small ideas.
Nick Bland is known for his brilliant, witty and entertaining read-aloud stories (e.g. The Very Cranky Bear, The Aunties Three), but he is also a fine writer of warm and meaningful stories (e.g. Twinkle, The Runaway Hug). The Magnificent Tree certainly fits into the latter category.
Nick’s story is aptly accompanied by Stephen Michael King’s exquisite illustrations. His fanciful sketches, emotive expressions and lovely use of warm, glorious colours help to develop the endearing characters and tender story.
The story is told through uncomplicated text and a variety of illustrative layouts- from full-colour, double-page spreads to time sequence panels.
Bonny enjoys spending time with her pop. They are both very different and that’s precisely what they admire about each other. But, they are both ‘ideas people’. Bonny’s ideas are simple but clever, while Pop’s ideas are big, brave and brilliant.
Together, Bonny and Pop decide they need to create a tree so the birds will stay and play. Bonny takes on a natural and traditional approach to growing a tree, while Pop tinkers with some new ideas to create his invention.
They tinkered through summer, and toiled through autumn.
They sawed, hammered and built their way through winter.
Good things come to those who wait and, after a whole year of hard work, Bonny and Pop are ready to reveal their creations- just in time for the birds to return. Just like Pop and Bonny, their trees are very different. Pop’s tree is big and brilliant, which invites play, exploration and adventure. Bonny’s tree is simple and beautiful, and makes a perfect home for the birds.
The story ends with Pop and Bonny admiring each other’s creations while enjoying the company of birds.
As you would expect from Nick and Stephen, there are many beautiful messages to absorb after reading The Magnificent Tree. In particular, valuing the opinions and talents of others and understanding that great things take time.
Beyond the beautiful messages in the book, I sense there is a deeper message too; that the world can benefit when differing minds find a way to work together.
We can only hope that this is just the first of many collaborations between Nick Bland and Stephen Michael King.
Author: Nick Bland
Illustrator: Stephen Michael King
Publisher: Scholastic Press, July 2012
Suitable for ages: 4+