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The world is dangerous and mysterious

Cover of Big Tree
A review of Big Tree by Brian Selznick

And totally worth saving.  

Louise and Merwin are tiny sycamore seed siblings preparing to take flight from their mother's seed pouch when disaster strikes. The forest is on fire and creatures are fleeing the area. A stampede of dinosaurs knock over mama and her seed pouch bursts open. The two little seeds make their way into the terrifying world earlier than planned, sooner than they were prepared for, and without great prospects for finding a suitable place to put down roots.

Such is life in the Cretaceous era. Dreamer Louise and practical Merwin are at odds with each other as they try to manifest their destiny. Louise wants to settle in the first spot they see even when it may not be the best for survival and Merwin's perfect planning unintentionally sends them towards an erupting volcano. The two encounter a variety of flora and fauna along the way including mushroom Ambassadors serving as an underground communication pipeline, foraminifera Scientists collecting underwater data on the world around them, and a prehistoric version of a butterfly. Millions of years later the Earth has transformed and the reader finds out what has happened to Louise and Merwin.  

The afterword includes annotations on the real science incorporated into the story, a bibliography, and backstory of how the book originated as a screenplay for Steven Spielberg. It has that kind of sweeping feel to it, a breathtaking look at nature as told from the perspective of nature. Approximately 525 pages of Selznick's exquisite illustrations and words merge to present an enormous, atmospheric story about setting down roots, becoming what you are meant to be and protecting this planet we live on.   

Sep 11, 2023