3 out of 4 stars
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Tobin and Mr. Good Tree is an illustrated children’s book by Shirley Vaughn that follows the tale of Tobin, a six-year old orphan. Tobin prays every day for a family to adopt him and he has made a great friend in a giant black walnut tree: Mr. Good Tree. When Mr. Good Tree tells Tobin that he is going to be cut down, Tobin is extremely upset and runs into the woods. Although there are dangers around every corner, Tobin is being watched over and protected by someone or something. You’ll need to read the book to find out what happens to Tobin in the woods and whether or not his prayers for a family are answered.
This is a cute children’s book that is geared towards placing hope into the hands of God. For a religious family, the message is vibrant and clear, God will provide to those who are deserving and those that have faith. The story is a very uplifting one for kids that may either be orphans or who are waiting to be adopted. It shows that with patience and faith there is a loving family out there for everyone. I particularly liked how it can also be taken as an awareness piece for children with a family; it can show them that others are not always as fortunate as they are.
For the projected age groups, sometimes the words used seemed a bit complicated or odd. I understand that this likely comes from different slang words used from different countries, but an American or Canadian child may be confused when reading a sentence like, “where is that cockeyed black walnut tree.” One thing that I didn’t like in the book, however, was the implication that God would give whatever was needed, no matter what. At one point in the story, a trance comes over the seller of building supplies who then states that “your order is free, sir.” Everything is given, free of charge, to this character because he needed to renovate his home. I understand the point of the book is faith, but in my opinion, this is a little too much as it may teach children to assume that everything will be given to them if only they believe.
The images in this book are fantastic. I have seen way too many children’s books that have either poorly illustrated or that are illustrated in a way that seems awkward to the reader. This book however was done in a way such that the characters were realistic enough, the colours vibrant enough to maintain attention, but still simple enough for a variety of age groups. I think the best comparison, from popular children’s literature, would be to the various Curious George titles.
The flow of the book was excellent for the projected age group, in and around that of the main character: 6 years old. There is just enough text to challenge the age-group prior to having a full page of attention grabbing illustrations. As well, the concept of repetition is aptly used throughout the book, allowing an added level of attention/attraction to the text.
This well written and illustrated book was a pleasure to read and therefore I give Tobin and Mr. Good Tree 3 out of 4 stars. Due to some of the language potentially inhibiting a global accessibility and the concerns I had with God giving things away, I took away one minor star. This book is particularly recommended for Christian families who want to pass along the message of faith in a God that provides for his people. If you are not religious, or do not want to expose your children to religious based children’s books, this one will not be for you.
Tobin and Mr. Good Tree
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