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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
“Why do you weep, little willow?” It’s a sad question to start a story. But, weeping is not all about sorrow. We weep for so many reasons; happiness, sadness, joy and sorrow, lost and found. And the weeping willow, right down to its core and all along its tendril branches, weeps along with us. “I weep for your heart/ in bad times and good./ When it fills over with love,/ just as it should.” And the willow expresses its heartfelt connection to human feelings: “You’re never alone in your joy/ or your sorrow,/ we’re there right beside you/ now and tomorrow.” Until the final line that provides a quaint willow version of a scripture reading.
Stefanie Fields’ picture book story, Little Willow, tackles a difficult concept for young readers. Why do we cry? We don’t always cry because we’re sad. We cry for many reasons; it’s an expression of intense feelings. The author cleverly allows the weeping willow tree to tell the story, in the first person and in rhyming verse. The willow tree presents many different reasons to cry, to weep, and the willow tree weeps alongside us. It shares our joys and sorrows and so much more. The illustrations are simple: mere hanging tendrils of willow branches and the rugged, scarred texture of the willow’s bark. Beautifully told, beautifully presented, simple but profound in its presentation. This is a book for all ages to cherish and enjoy, but also a wonderful tool to help young readers understand a difficult concept. Why do we weep?