A bear and a tree, written and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, Viking/Penguin Group, 2012
In A bear and a tree, a kind bear about to hibernate helps his friend Ren understand why a tree has lost its leaves. Seasonal changes and the passing of time are depicted largely through the illustrations. Gentle watercolour images reflect the soft, heartfelt narrative, and white space is utilised to highlight moments of action. Some double page, full frame spreads feature few or no words, allowing for quiet contemplation of Ren and Bear’s journey. A satisfactory resolution is reached when the bear helps Ren attach remnants of each season and their adventures to the tree, suggesting themes of team work, friendship, creativity and reassurance. This is a poignant story with a gentle strength, by one of my favourite author/illustrators.