Title: Isla’s Family Tree
Author: Katrina McKelvey
Illustrator: Prue Pittock
Publisher: EK Books
Genre: Children’s picture book
Book format: Digital (pdf of hardcover version)
Description: Isla isn’t happy that her family is changing, so her mother creates a clever family tree with Isla to teach her how families always grow. When her mother hands her two new leaves, Isla doesn’t think they belong. She tries to make them fit somewhere, but not on her branch. However, once she meets her new brothers, she has a change of heart and finds room for them after all. A fun book for any family trying to introduce new family members, or show children how they belong in their family.
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: I really like this book, it has a fun story, a great message about families and is a good book to use to discuss some problems children might be having in accepting new siblings. Isla’s mum is soon going to give birth but Isla doesn’t think there’s any more room for a new baby, so her Mama sits her down and together they make a family tree. But as Isla adds leaves with the names of each person in the family, to the branches of her family tree, she soon realises that there really isn’t any more space on her own family’s branch for a new baby.
This book is very clever and has more to it than first appears, giving adults the chance to discuss a lot of different issues with children, if they want to. The main story about Isla and the new sibling she’ll soon meet is quite simple. Isla is like a lot of children who are expecting a new brother or sister, at first she’s not happy about it and doesn’t know where the new baby will go. As she sits with her mum to fill in a family tree, which is literally a tree with the grandparents as the trunk and her mum and aunties’s families as the branches, she then has to fit all the individual people on as leaves. But Isla’s family branch is too small to fit more than just Isla and her parents so she starts to imagine where else the baby could go. Maybe it could go and live with her aunties instead.
I love how simple the story is at tackling this issue of getting used to a new sibling, or siblings (twins) as Isla’s story soon shows. I don’t want to spoil exactly what happens but of course in the end, Isla has a change or heart and she comes up with a clever idea of how to fix the ‘full’ family tree problem. While the main story is about Isla’s dilemna, there are some details about her aunties and cousins. I love the way this book manages to show a same sex couple as well as an adopted cousin without making it a big deal or making it sound extra special or different. Both families and the children (Isla’s cousins) are treated as normal, which of course they are, but I just like the way this is approached and put into the book as a side note rather than made too obvious, as this can spark conversations with children about different kinds of families if adults want to.
The illustrations are lovely, very simple but they show everything so well. I have only seen a digital version of this but I just love the way all the characters look, especially how expressive Isla looks. I love the big smile she has and her pet cat that keeps cropping up into almost every picture. The pictures are all in black and white, with a little bit of orange, red and pink here and there. Having a white background in every picture puts a lot of emphasis on what’s happening with Isla and I just love the way every illustration looks! There is something so fun and cute about these pictures, I just love the way so much can be shown with such a simple design.
Overall this is a lovely book with such a great story, showing kids how wonderful new siblings can be for a family. At the same time it can spark children who are reading to create their own family trees and helps to show how normal every family is, no matter how they are made up.
What do you think of this book? Have you ever had to discuss a growing family with your children? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂