Reviews /

Mum, Me and the Mulberry Tree

Authored by Tanya Rosie
Illustrated by Chuck Groenink
Published by Walker Books

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Mum, Me and the Mulberry Tree is a gentle story of family and the importance of small rituals in our lives, highlighting the part they play both in appreciating the present moment and in the happy memories they create. The text and illustrations work in harmony to create a loving and tender atmosphere in this thoughtful picture book. 

Mother and child share a special journey as we follow them from sunrise to sunset on a day trip to the countryside. It is soon apparent to the reader that this trip is familiar to both mother and daughter as they travel side by side on the bus through a village to a field in which a large tree stands on a hill. Not just any tree but ‘our tree’. As the mother lifts the child into the branches together, they gather the mulberries into the buckets and tubs they have brought with them in readiness. They stop for a picnic lunch, shelter from the rain beneath the tree’s branches and as the day ends they travel home together tired but happy. Once home Mum sets to work preparing a pie, helped by her small daughter and they tuck in together before the child climbs into bed full of pie and ready to dream about her happy day. 

For any adult reading this there is a strong nostalgic feel to the story as it celebrates simple pleasures and family traditions. Tania Rosie’s lyrical text would be lovely to read aloud with its soothing style making it particularly appropriate as a bedtime story. Chuck Groenink’s illustrations are a perfect fit as they are infused with warmth, depicting the closeness of parent and child beautifully. The tree itself almost becomes another character with its branches curved like protective arms around its visitors. Different illustration techniques are used to support the narrative, with clever use of framing and double page spreads. The small picture of the sleeping girl before the story actually starts is a lovely way to open the book emphasising the feeling of security that is apparent throughout. The passage of time is conveyed simply so that a young reader or listener can follow the structure of the day from waking up to bedtime. The subtle use of colour and light also convey the passing of the day well as we move into the sunset and this warmth can be seen in the scenes in the kitchen too.

Although perfect for families this would be a lovely book to share in the classroom for EYFS and KS1. It links well to the topic of food and growing and could be used as an introduction to a cooking session. The story could also prompt talk about journeys and outings. A reassuring and comforting read for a wide age group.