Book Review: ‘Where Are The Trees?’ by Lotte Bender

‘Where Are The Trees?’ is a delightful picture book in the classic Hero’s journey style, that keeps its environmental message on the fringe of the tale and unobtrusive, but is extremely effective. Written and illustrated by Kildorrery’s Lotte Bender and ideal for the 3-7 age range, the characters are birds, and we enjoy the world from their viewpoint almost exclusively.

In this world, the young turkeys Pip and Peter discover from their grandpa that turkeys could once fly, but have forgotten the skill as they have no trees to practice upon. They set out on a journey to find some and in the process meet adversaries, friends, and indirectly are the cause of the regreening of a city.

The illustrations are big and bright enough to embellish the story for younger children and will be particularly interesting for older kids, with enough detail in the background for this age group to engage with the book on their own too.

The expressions of the birds throughout are compelling, and make an engaging visual aid for children if being read to aloud. Happiness, fear, despair and laughter are all portrayed with no ambiguity, while the barren treeless desert is evocative in the midst of a story full of action and movement. The colour palette works to reflect the story, while the rhyming structure makes this story ideal for reading aloud.

The introduction of the environmental theme is subtle, and so understated that it makes a cheerful ‘lesson’ to be learned without being preachy or negative. Indeed, this book would make a good recommendation for children who are anxious about environmental issues, as its message is a disarmingly simple and proactive one.

Availabe locally in Blackwater Valley Makers, Philip’s Bookshop Mallow and Kildorrery Post Office.