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ARC Review: Maple and Rosemary by Alison James

Publication Date: February 28, 2023


A touching story about a sugar maple tree who finds a lifelong friend when a young girl comes to seek comfort in its branches.

For the longest time, Maple was on her own, ignored by the cedars and the pines. All she wanted was a friend she could talk to. Then one day, Rosemary climbs into her branches, sad and searching for a friend of her own. Together they form a bond as real as roots.

Through the seasons and across a lifetime, Maple and Rosemary tells a story of true friendship, one in which the experiences we share become a part of who we are.

Alison James’s spare, eloquent text is accompanied by luminous illustrations that capture the shifting seasons in all their glory, by Jennifer K. Mann, creator of the much-acclaimed picture book, The Camping Trip.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Kiddo (9) and I loved this sweet story of the friendship between a girl and a tree. It reminds me of the Giving Tree only better – instead of a relationship where the boy takes and takes, Rosemary and Maple’s friendship has both of them giving, both of them receiving the love they need to grow strong and to move past the loneliness they both share at the beginning of the book.

The illustrations are whimsical and have a childlike charm. Kiddo said they looked a bit like crayon drawings and they do have that air about them. They also have a lot of character and show Rosemary’s expressions really well.

Kiddo listened rapt through the whole story (with only one interruption to ask anxiously if Rosemary would ever come back) and was very thoughtful after we finished. He is at the age where he is beginning to want friends and recognize loneliness, and the story seemed to resonate with him, as both Maple and Rosemary begin the story struggling with that.

I love that it ends on a positive note. We never read the Giving Tree much, as it does not depict a healthy relationship and isn’t really a happy story. Maple and Rosemary, in contrast, ends with Maple and Rosemary realizing they have become a part of one another and neither will ever be lonely again. It does a great job illustrating what true friendship is like and softens the bittersweet knowledge that Maple will outlive Rosemary, because Maple will always have memories of her.

It would be a perfect read-aloud book for storytime and I am going to recommend it to my library as it is just the sort the children’s librarian there likes to choose.

*Thanks to Alison James and Neal Porter Books for providing an early copy for review.


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