"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 9780745962894The 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.
Book Source: Copy from our personal library
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.
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.
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.
- Hebrews 12:2
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