Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Three Trees by Elena Pasquali - Book Review and Stand Up Cross Craft

I know that many people read the story of the three trees at Christmas, but for me the story is one that evokes especially poignant emotions at Easter. While several retellings of this story exist, I really like this new, beautifully illustrated picture book version by Elena Pasquali and illustrated by Sophie Windham.

"Long ago, on a hillside, stood three trees ... Under the cold night sky that glittered with stars, they dreamed their dreams."
The Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale by Elena Pasquali, illustrated by Sophie Windham. Lion UK / Kregel (September 2011); ISBN 9780745962894
Book Source: Copy from our personal library
The Three Trees folktale is one with a Christian message that tells of Jesus' life journey from cradle to cross from the perspective of three forest trees. Each of the three trees stand together on a hill and dream of greatness: the first wants to be made into a chest and hold a fine treasure, the second yearns to be a proud ship and carry a king and the third tree hopes to remain forever on the hillside pointing to heaven. One day, woodcutters climb the hill and chop down the trees. The three trees lament over their situations as the forms they eventually take are not as they had dreamed. However, overtime the trees each realize they play a greater role than they could ever imagine. They are each part of God's plan and play a part in Jesus's life.

I like several things about this version of the familiar tale. First of all it provides a wonderful example of how God's will may not always be the same as our will, but God does have wonderful plan, a purpose in mind for each and every one of us. Also, in Windham's illustrations each of the trees is different, just like each of God's children. The text is not overly long and slightly simplified when compared to alternate retellings, and Pasquali retains the heart and emotion of the story. For this reason, this retelling is particularly suited for younger children. Windham's folksy artistic style definitely is a good fit for this story. My kids remarked at all the extra details in Windham's colorful illustrations, and we especially like the elaborate borders and different sized panels.

"The tree that had borne his death was now a symbol of his life. And the third tree knew that it would stand for ever, pointing to heaven."

Because of the way the final sentences are worded, the book can be used as a useful tool in talking about the symbolism of the cross in Christianity -- the cross is not only a symbol of the suffering and death of Jesus but, as it stands empty pointing toward heaven, it also serves a reminder of the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ. Windham's final illustration shows a cross superimposed over a tree full of life, a lovely image showing the Easter blessing of new life through Jesus Christ.

✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ Stand Up Cross Craft ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞ ✞

My kids made 3D crosses that stand up as a tie-in activity for The Three Trees book. In order to make this cross you need two pieces of cardstock paper. Cut out two identical cross patterns, then cut halfway down one cross and halfway up the other cross. To make the cross stand up, fit the two crosses together up the center. Once you have the cross assembled, flatten and color on all four sides. We strengthened our crosses with a bit of tape at the top and the bottom.

Printable PDF Cross Craft Template - Print on 8 x 11" paper:

The craft is really simple to make but it looks beautiful and points to heaven just like the cross in the book. Another craft that would correspond well with this book is the Life of Jesus Cross Craft found at Prekinders. You could adapt the images to show the parts of Jesus's life discussed in the book.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
- Hebrews 12:2

A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Add your kids craft post to the Kid's Get Crafty linky at Red Ted Art's Blog. Join in Read Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word. Wrote a post about play? Join the It's Playtime party! Find more great book tie-ins at JDaniel4's Mom Read, Explore, Learn link-up.

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Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Very nice! I've seen this book before, but a different version, I think. We read it for Christmas last year. I like the cover art in this version!

Books4Learning said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that book! Perfect book for this season! Your stand up cross is awesome!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

We have a different version of that story which I typically read at Christmas, but this one looks lovely. That craft is great, too. Thanks for linking up!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

We have this book and adore it! What a wonderful message it shares. Your craft is amazing! I am going to pin it.

Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn.

Owl Things First said...

Oh how I wish I had seen this before Easter! I've not read the book, but it's on my list, now!
Thanks for sharing!
I'd Rather Be Birding

Jen said...

I've never seen this version- I have a different one. Great review and craft- will pin.