Ages 7 and up
April 4, 2023
Louise and Merwin, two Sycamore seeds, have always assumed they would live with their Mama for a long time before setting down their roots. However, when the mysterious voice of the Old One whispers of impending danger to Louise, and strange incidents start happening in the forest, Louise and Merwin are thrust into an unknown world away from their Mama. Forced to explore the changing and dangerous world around them, the siblings face dinosaurs, meteors, and volcanoes to find a safe place to grow. When the voice of the Old One becomes louder to Louise, she realizes that they may have a higher purpose—to save the world.
Pros and illustrations make this a non-traditional children’s fiction book as it uses both as an integral part of the story; with pages switching from pros, illustrations, and to a combination of both. The black and white charcoal illustrations bring another layer to the story while giving a changing perspective shift from microscopic to galactic view of the world and its creatures. The illustrations are ordered to show the motion of objects, animals, and plants giving life to the story, especially when whole pages portray the walk of a dinosaur past the forest (Pgs. 70-81). Through great changes, Merwin and Louise must change their perspective to adapt to the world around them. Merwin becomes pragmatic and protective of Louise, who is being guided to safety by the Old One, and mostly leads them astray of the Old One’s plan. Louise basks in the new sensations of the world and delves more into trusting and listening to the world around them. Eventually, learning to trust in one another, they both listen to the Old One and prepare for the chance to save the world. In this adventure, Selznick gives a voice to the world by using the Old One as a wise and protective being that wishes to help all its children, while also teaching them that death is just one part of the Cycle of Life. Selznick includes backmatter on the original idea of this book, the science behind key characters, and an acknowledgment of all the scientists and specialists that have helped him research in preparation for this book. As Louise guides Merwin, Big Tree will guide readers to listen to the sound of the world and care for our fragile planet before it’s too late.