1 new country + 1 new home + 1 new language = one sad, lonely little girl.
This solitary little child watches the other children play, but from the safety of the trees that hide her from their sight. She would love to join them, but, since she can’t understand them, she stays in her sanctuary with her wishes and dreams.
What a surprise, then, when the trees speak to her–in her own language! The magnolia, the weeping cherry, and the plum tree comfort her and welcome her into their leafy homes. Their constant presence, their interest in her day, and their encouragement when she has successes make her more and more sure of herself. Old Wind, who spends a lot of time among the trees, becomes her friend as well, finding her when she is lost and keeping her from harm.
But what happens when she goes away to summer camp? How will she get along without her garden friends? Old Wind has the freedom to go and check up on her, and is able to report back to the trees that she is happy–with new friends.
Does this disappoint the trees? Not at all–they welcome the little girl and her new-found friends. She is finally sure enough of herself that she can live in both worlds.
Until, once again, she has to pull up her own young roots and move again. The trees and Old Wind assure her that they will always be friends, since Old Wind can follow her wherever she goes.
What a darling book! I can just see some little girl, eyes sparkling with delight, as someone reads this book to her. The descriptions are enthralling (“Shaking glowing sparkles to the earth, the moon painted a soundless night in a silver shade with his invisible brushes”), and the story is just so sweet. The little girl is so real; I can imagine Ms. D’Agostino writing this with her own daughter in mind.
The character I most admired, though, was the little girl’s mother. She lives the story of the talking trees with her daughter, instead of telling her that they live only in her young imagination. I guess the mom must have taken the author’s advice at the front of the book:
“Be a child for a moment…Dive into their imaginary world where you can hide in the shadows of blossoming trees…Do not lose this precious time together…”
And I cannot add anything to that.