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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
There is a childhood story I always enjoyed, The Little Engine Who Could by Watty Piper. What a refreshing, encouraging story about determination and never giving up. What about a weak little tree? Blown about by strong winds, almost trampled by big feet, flooded roots from heavy rains – can this little tree really be something big and wonderful? Or is it going to be the weak little tree that couldn’t, feeling sorry for himself and only living up to the name given to him, Weakly? Over the years, this little tree had a lot to learn. And, thirty years later, big and strong, he’s almost as big as the lighthouse beyond his yard. There is another way to look at the world and it can’t be seen through the glasses of self-pity. We all have our challenges to overcome and, with God’s help, we can become big and strong and wonderful, though, through God we are already all of those things.
Leslie Hall’s picture book story, A Weak Little Tree Beside Me, is a compelling story about courage and accepting all of God’s blessings, big and small. With beautiful, colorful illustrations, this story follows the little tree from a sapling to a full-grown oak tree. Told mostly in the first-person narrative from the tree’s point of view, the plot evokes compassion for one of God’s littlest living beings that is suffering through all kinds of storms. Powerful lessons are shared as the little tree learns as he grows that not all things appear to be perfect, but, in God’s eyes all things are perfect and just the way they should be. The author has presented this complex message with simplicity, care, and compassion, cleverly revealing the message through the growth of one little oak tree. Loved it.