Listening…love of nature…love of others…what parent wouldn’t want their child to develop and embody each of those traits…I recently had the chance to review, “Hannah and the Talking Tree” by Elke Weiss, and just fell in love with sweet little Hannah, and the big message she had to share.
Author Elke Weiss has woven together a story that yes, has an important ecological message, but also a powerful underlying message about courage, inner character, conviction, and the importance of listening (and being heard!) In this story, young Hannah is truly special. She uses her extra-big ears to listen…truly listen…to others and to nature. In fact, when feeling upset over being teased about her ears, Hannah connects with nature to comfort herself….to feel happy again. Hannah’s ears (and her beautiful inner spirit) allow her to listen to nature. She hears the wind sing….she hears the grass grow…and then she hears the story of one lone tree. Hannah and the tree share an instant bond…both very much alone, and very much wanting to be close to others. The tree shares with Hannah how all of his friends have been cut down….all of the animals that once lived in the forest have gone….and he is all alone….As Hannah and the tree hear the sound of the same machine that took his friends approaching, Hannah knows what she must do. Understanding how the tree feels, and wanting to preserve and protect the nature that she loves so dearly, Hannah comes up with a plan. Tenacious little Hannah bravely approaches those who ostracize her….With such courage and strength of spirit she goes to the people who have mocked her, and lets her voice be heard. She shares with the people the story of the tree, and asks them to help. (And here is where the truly magic moment in the story came…)As everyone began to LISTEN, their ears began to grow as well. Hannah’s special connection with nature, her ability to listen, and her courage to let her voice be heard brought together a community, and saved a forest from destruction. This is truly a special book that not only teaches children the importance of preserving and protecting our natural surroundings, but also teaches them so much about the power of good character. Hannah is a role model that I was proud to share with my own Hannah (who absolutely adored this book.)
Elke Weiss is the author and illustrator of this book (amazingly beautiful pictures…one of which I want to frame!), which is the first in a series of environmental books for children. The book is the 2010 Gold Medal Winner of the Moonbeams Children’s Book Award.