There are only few books with a simple story that seem to grow every time you read them. “Thea’s tree” by German author and illustrator Judith Clay is one of them. I honestly didn’t fell in love with this book at first sight – but sometimes you have to take a second look.
“Thea’s tree” was published by the Indian publisher “Karadi Tales” and chosen for the White Ravens List of the International Youth Library Munich in 2012.
The first time I read “Thea’s tree” I was quite disappointed by the unassuming storyline. Thea grew up in a city without trees – and like most children she doesn’t know what she’s missing until hearing her parent’s childhood stories. Thea starts to long for “trees to hide, trees to climb, trees to sit under and dream.” One day, Thea gets the chance to reach for her vision in a dream-like encounter with a magical tree. Believing in her dream, Thea plants the first tree in the city without trees – “and if you come to Thea’s town today, you will find it there still.” Nature finds it’s way back into our civilization. We live in a time where climbing trees is ill-reputed as “too dangerous” and playgrounds are made out of concrete. So isn’t this a message we want to give our children and grandchildren?
I have to be honest: Though I love Clay’s message of making your dreams reality and bringing back nature in our lifes, I personally found interpreting the passage with the god-like representation of a tree extremely difficult. Is it an ode to daydreaming? Does is present destiny, a god or just a chance life gives you? As a non-religious person who doesn’t believe in fate this still is one of the biggest drawbacks for me. Thea fells in love with the idea of having a tree, she holds on to her dream and finally brings it to life. There is no need for destiny of a bigger entity, is it? But as every story, our background and experiences are playing a big part in the interpretation of “Thea’s tree”. Judith Clay’s illustrations are rather unique and worth a second glance. So please: Give “Thea’s tree” a chance and enjoy the unique story about bringing back nature and making your daydreams true!
„Thea’s tree“ by Judith Clay
Hardcover: 28 pages
Publisher: Karadi Tales Picturebooks