________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 36. . . .May 22, 2015


The Two Trees.

Sally Meadows. Illustrated by Trudi Olfert.
Regina, SK: Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing, 2015.
49 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-927756-43-0.

Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9.

Review by Bev Brenna.

*** /4



In the summer, Mom helped us make bug-catchers, catapults, and a castle out of old cardboard boxes big enough for both Syd and me to climb into.

But when Mom was busy on her computer, it was hard to get Syd to play with me. All he wanted to do was to talk about his own things.


The Two Trees, by Sally Meadows, offers the first-person perspective of a boy whose older brother Syd has autism. Like the two small evergreens Jaxon brings home from school, he and his brother grow very differently, with some settings more supportive to them than others. A move to a new school for Syd, where there are “better programs for smart ASD kids”, is related to a move for one of the trees to a location in the yard where it can thrive.

      The author’s deep understanding of autism spectrum disorder is very evident in the characterization of Syd as well as the sensitively drawn sibling relationship. For this reason, The Two Trees will be a fine addition to settings where discussions can evolve that relate to this informative text.

      Trudi Olfert’s illustrations closely follow the storyline, offering opportunities to empathize with both boys in their respective life experiences.

      While this picture book demonstrates stylistic shortcomings that will limit its artistic longevity, as well as a treatment of exceptionality that at times neglects “people-first” language (seen in passages that refer to “ASD kids” rather than “kids with ASD”), it also carries a poignant story of family life to which many readers will relate.


Bev Brenna is the author of 11 books for young people, including The White Bicycle, third in a trilogy about a character with ADS and shortlisted for a 2013 Governor General’s Award. Stories for Every Classroom (Canadian Scholars Press), her newest publication, is a close examination of Canadian fiction presenting characters with disabilities. Bev is currently Acting Associate Dean for the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, where her research interests are children’s literature and literacy (www.beverleybrenna.com).

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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