SYLVIA ROSE AND THE CHERRY TREE, by Sandy Shapiro-Hurt and Xindi Yan, Tilbury House Publishers, Feb. 6, 2018, Hardcover, $17.95 (ages 5-8)
Sylvia Rose and the Cherry Tree, written by Sandy Shapiro-Hurt and illustrated by Xindi Yan, follows a young girl and her animal friends as they realize how delicate an ecosystem can be.
Sylvia Rose loves visiting the animals and trees of the forest. Her favorite place to visit is the big cherry tree. Together they share almost everything, but the tree is sad because her roots hold her in one place. It can never move beyond where it grows.
Sylvia Rose hates to see the tree so upset and enlists some animal friends to help uproot the tree. While Sylvia Rose and the tree gleefully travel the world, the forest creatures back at home are suffering. The tree provided food and shelter, and now both are missing.
Eventually, the cherry tree and Sylvia Rose grow tired of travel and return home. With the tree planted back where it belongs the forest balance is returned.
Sylvia Rose and the Cherry Tree is a sweet and endearing story. The illustrations are bold and beautiful, and you really get a sense of how important each element of an ecosystem is. I wish, however, that the author had not chosen to tell the tale in rhyme.
While rhyming can be a great thing for both reader and listener, it can also weaken the overall message if not done well. In the case of Sylvia Rose and the Cherry Tree the rhythms are inconsistent, lending to a haphazard and overly convenient feel. You get a going at a good pace only to trip over a phrase here or there, and that’s unfortunate. The text also comes across as more childish here. My 4-year-old has no problem with it, but I think a 7- or 8-year-old might think it too simple.
My daughter does not have the same issues with Sylvia Rose and the Cherry Tree as I do. I think those come up more for the reader than the audience. And the more we read it, the better it flows.