“The determined woodcutter stands before The Most Beautiful Tree on four occasions. In the spring, summer, and autumn, the Tree is able to use her wits and generosity to cleverly avoid his axe. In the dead cold of winter, however, she finds herself barren and defenseless when he comes calling one last time…”
The story of The Woodcutter and the Most Beautiful Tree is meant to be enjoyed over and over again by readers and listeners of all ages. The highly-stylized, watercolor-and-ink illustrations truly bring the the characters and their world to life.
“As the seasons pass, a wise and beautiful tree must persuade a jolly woodcutter not to chop her down. Thwickety-THWACK! Thwickety-THWACK! sings the woodcutter as he tromps through the forest, swinging his trusty axe and looking for a suitable tree to chop. When he comes upon a beautiful tree, he is at first delighted until the tree asks him what he intends to do. The startled woodcutter declares that he will CHOP-CHOP-CHOP her DOWN-DOWN-DOWN! and the clever tree offers him her flowers instead. He agrees to take these home to his wife in lieu of cutting the tree down. Again and again, the woodcutter encounters the tree, and each time she offers him a gift to dissuade him from chopping her down. Come winter, however, the tree is despondent her branches are bare and she no longer has anything to offer. To her surprise, the friendly woodcutter offers her a gift. The illustrations by debut author Johnston suit the titular characters well the loud-mouthed woodcutter s words burst onto the page alongside his gorgeous and whimsical surroundings. The author s depiction of the tree is enchanting, with leaves and flowers blossoming onto the page in a colorful display that will captivate the eyes and minds of young readers. Johnston s illustrations are so beautiful and intricate that they nearly overwhelm the narrative. Still, young readers and listeners are sure to enjoy the repetitive lyrics of the woodcutter s song. Parents, librarians and schoolteachers may also enjoy belting out the woodcutter s amusing dialogue. In the end, readers learn a touching lesson of friendship and giving as its own reward. Gorgeous illustrations, humorous dialogue and a moving narrative make this a stunning debut.” NAMED TO KIRKUS REVIEWS’ “BEST OF 2011″ –Kirkus Book Reviews (STARRED)
“The Woodcutter and The Most Beautiful Tree is an impressive first effort in both art and story for debut artist and author Robb Johnston, of Rockford. … The kaleidoscope-style circle designs create an amazing tree that changes in color and beauty with each season, offering new perspectives on every page. … Reminiscent of Shel Silverstein s The Giving Tree, Johnston s fresh storytelling and intricate visuals will delight readers of all ages. Repetitive verses, rich language and a happily-ever-after ending make the story ideal for reading aloud.” –Gina Gilligan – The Grand Rapids Press