The Tree and the River

Aaron Becker

Walker (3+) 9781529512946 (Hardback)

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A wordless, time-lapse picture book that follows the lifecycle of a tree growing near a river bank. As the tree grows, readers witness the progression and development of civilisation and humankind against the enduring pastoral landscape. It is a portrait of nature, and humankind’s symbiotic, though sometimes destructive, relationship with it. We see the emergence of early civilisation where people build homes and progress through the development of farms before moving through medieval times, empires and the industrial revolution with the age of steam.

The story can be followed without the need for words and there is plenty of interpretative space for discussion and creativity. There are no blank spaces and each double page spread is filled with detail that reveals new elements and invites close inspection on every reading.  A strong book that encourages and supports visual literacy skills.  The colour palette is well-utilised to reflect the progress of humans as a race. Fully immersive, it is wordless but never simple. Fresh, creative and beautifully crafted, the book has many riches to offer and tells numerous stories simultaneously. Although tiny, every character has been given motivation and their own story to tell.

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Aaron Becker

Aaron Becker is the best-selling author of the award-winning Journey trilogy, along with several other books for children young and old. His love of travel led him to the city of Granada, Spain, where a rich history of layered civilizations inspired him to write The Tree and the River. To prepare for the story’s illustrations, he first constructed a scale model of the book’s rolling landscape, which he then slowly transformed with clay and wood over many months. When he’s not home with his wife and two daughters, Aaron Becker can be found creating something new in his studio in western Massachusetts.

Shadowers' reviews and artwork

It was a good book. The story behind it was that the tree was still there and the time changed into the past and the future. The pictures were really arty and it was very nice. I would say all ages can read this book. Basically some parts were sad and some parts of the book were about the future and some were about the present time. I really enjoyed this book I think this is my favourite book so far. In addition is also says that humans changed the present time into the future time and that the tree survived all along, that was the story behind it.


Brooke Weston Book Busters

I really enjoyed this book because it had lots of different types of pictures. However, it didn't have any words as it lets you imagine what is happening.


Brooke Weston Book Busters

It’s an amazing book and towards the end it was very emotional and the author has done an amazing job.


Witham St Hughs Readers


Lionel Readers

10/10 the best book I've ever seen! Not a single bad thing about it. This book is inspiring, not everything needs to be shown in words. I am dyslexic and found this book helps me to understand about the steam pump world and cyclical nature of the world.

Alec S


The Tree and the River is a great illustration book for older children. It shows the past, present and future. The cool thing is the main tree is always there in every illustration. Everything changes, as does the tree, but the tree is there right to the very end. It is a heart-worming story, which I did not think was possible with no words at all. It really tells a story of change. Even without words, you can understand what's happening perfectly. I really liked it.


Lionel Readers

This book is a dystopian book for older kids showing the life of a river and a tree over time. I think it is set in the future. It has a lot of detailed illustrations and is a wordless picture book and as lots of detailed artwork inside. The book calm me and I like that the pictures allow you to make up the story without the author giving you the words.


Lionel Readers

10/10!! I LOVE THIS BOOK! I like this book because of all the detailed pictures and how even when there are no words you can still understand what is going on because of the amazing illustrations. 5 stars!


Lionel Readers

I really liked this book's illustrations especially the start and the purple city. We think that it's a dystopian book for older children maybe 9+.It has detailed illustrations and it is wordless and all you have to do is actually observe the pictures. Also the more you look the more you can see.It has a really good meaning.I rate it 5 stars.


Lionel Readers

The tree and the river was amazing. The opening was spectacular and it felt like your were apart of the story of the tree. The illustration was so good it looked like the tree and all of the backgrounds were real . I loved the ending where the acorn falls and grows a new tree and the old tree disappears then the process begins all over again. I probably read it about 50 time it was that good. The backgrounds were fantastic like castles and boats and farms etc. and then it all resets and starts over again. The styles were shocking and the colors are so vibrant. The books cover was so pretty and the front cover made me want to choose this book. I definitely recommend this book to people of all ages and the memory and message of this story made my heart ache .


Rebel Readers

The Tree and the River is a wordless picture book that reflects how humans have adapted over time. Like Charles Darwin, I think the author believes in evolution. The book images how the battle between humans and nature is everlasting. For instance, on the front cover there are two sections reflected. The first represents how the world was before humans. You can see only nature: animals, trees, you can see the sky is blue and beautiful and the air is fresh. However, the second half of the front cover shows what the world looks like after humans arrived. There are buildings and factories. You can see a plane flying over them. The air looks polluted and the sky looks dull. There is only one tree. I give this book 5 stars *****


St James Hatcham Book Club