Stephen Hogtun’s debut picture book is something rather special and like the memories that the young sapling will always remember, ‘Leaves’ will remain with the reader long after the last page has been turned.
For years, a wise old tree has nurtured a sapling. Protecting her from the elements and filling her with love, he has helped her grow true and strong. Listening to his wisdom, the sapling has learnt how to care for and appreciate things, how to be strong and adaptable, the importance of keeping good memories and letting go of the bad. Together they make memories to last a lifetime. But eventually it is time for the old tree to go and for the sapling to take her own place in the world and to hold onto the memories that mean so much…
Extremely poignant and full of emotion and meaning, Leaves is a beautiful story of love, loss and those memories that we share and hold dear. Everything and everyone has to come to an end and the cycle of life and death are gently explored through a wonderfully touching relationship between two unusual characters, an old tree and a sapling.
With thoughtful and moving words and sumptuous artwork, the ups of life burst off the pages as the pair skip through meadows, embrace nature, relax by streams, watch birds flutter in the sky and enjoy feeling the breeze in their leaves. Wonderful memories are made and wise words are shared before the old tree slowly begins to fade, and when he does, make sure a tissue is close at hand.
As the old tree ages, indicated by the passing of the seasons, and its leaves, the precious memories that it cherishes, begin to fall, you know the inevitable is going to happen but it still brings a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye when it does. Just as it is in life, the sapling must go on, we all must go on. Losing a loved one is hard so make memories together whilst you can, for they will be there to hold onto forever and always.
Sometimes a book hits you right in the heart and this is exactly what Leaves does. It is thoughtful, it is comforting, it is heartwarming, it is heartbreaking, it is so many things. Such is its cleverness, with plenty of opportunities for conversations and exploring the deeper morals of the story, it could be enjoyed by a wide-aged audience who will all take away something different.
A moving, heartfelt and utterly beautiful picture book from an incredible new talent.
With huge thanks to Bloomsbury for this special book.
Recommended for 5+.