The five-year journey Big Tree has taken to reach your hands has involved many unexpected twists and turns, as well as a huge amount of change. I've written about the specifics of this journey in the Afterword; but since you are the first people in the world to read this book, I wanted to talk to you about the idea of change. Every moment of every day, the world around us is changing. This has been true forever, but lately this change has felt particularly terrifying and unrelenting. Even those of us lucky enough to be healthy, safe, and not currently living in a war zone feel the effects of the trauma around us. What does hope look like when there is so much darkness? Big Tree is about a kind of hope that can be found in nature. It's about surviving by working together to create a community. It's about moving forward, planning for the future, and growing—even in the face of destruction. The natural world also offers so many beautiful metaphors to help us live. Trees seem to be optimistic by design. Planting a seed is intrinsically an act of hope. Trees can't un-grow. And even when they die, they make way for more trees. One of the most moving things I learned while making this book involves the idea that forests are not a collection of individual trees, but rather a community where everything is connected. Trees need one another to survive in the same way people need one another to survive. And like nature, we need to be adaptable as we grow. We need to figure out, like forests, how to survive danger together, and how to change for the better as we move forward into the future. This is what I believe books have the power to help us understand, and this is why I love writing and illustrating for children.
Thank you for reading Big Tree.