I often pick up books at the library simply because they have that enticing yellow “new” sticker on them. I’m not sure exactly what drew me to “The Branch” by Mireille Messier and Pierre Pratt, but this is a wonderful book to share.
What is extraordinary about this book is that it shows a special multi-generational friendship between the little girl and her neighbor, and it encourages children to up-cycle a cherished item by turning it into something else.
When an ice storm snaps a small girl’s favorite branch from the tree in her yard, she’s crestfallen. The girl’s mom says it’s just a branch. But not to her! “That was the branch I sat on, jumped from, played under. It was my castle, my spy base, my ship . . .” Luckily, her neighbor Mr. Frank understands. He says the branch has “potential.” “What’s potential?” she asks. “It means it’s worth keeping.” And so, with imagination and spirit, and Mr. Frank’s guidance and tools, the girl transforms the broken branch into something whole and new, giving it another purpose, and her another place to treasure.
The special part here comes because Mr. Frank himself builds things from salvaged wood, so he wants the little girl to enjoy that experience herself. I think this is especially meaningful to me because I have a good friend who works with wood and I know how special his pieces are. The idea of this little girl saving the branch from her beloved tree and turning it into something that she can use for years to come is marvelous.
Mr. Frank and the girl spend many hours learning an invaluable trade. So few kids get to experience that anymore that it feels like the book is making a point on how important that bond is. My own father has always had an elaborate workbench in the garage and taught me to be comfortable with tools at an early age. The experience this book highlights is so important and so special that it touched me to see it captured in picture book format.
I truly loved this book and hope that it is shared by many multi-generational relationships.