Florence and Her Fantastic Family Tree
Author: Judy Gilliam
Illustrator: Laura Addari
“with all the parts — stems, branches, leaves, trunk, berries, and nuts.”
What do you do when your family tree doesn’t quite look like everyone else’s?
Florence is about to find out when her teacher assigns the class a family tree project to display in the classroom. Florence is immediately concerned, for her tree, you see, “doesn’t just have a trunk, roots, leaves, and branches. It has stickers, thorns, and extra limbs. My family tree is prickly, scaly, and partially overgrown.” Florence worries that her tree will be too big for the wall, that everyone will be confused (as she sometimes is), or, if anyone will even believe her!
You see, while Florence has a mom, dad, and sibling like most of her classmates, she also has several step-parents, and a handful of half-siblings. As she works through the project and begins describing how she is related to everyone on the tree, she comes to realize:
“It might not be simple and might not be easy to describe, but these are my people…but you know what the best part is? That’s me, right in the middle of this great, big, loud, colorful, fun, crazy, family that I call mine.”
The book is beautifully illustrated, both showcasing Florence’s anxieties (the branches tend to run away on several pages), and Florence’s clear love for her tangled web of a family. Her journey to share this love with her class comes through so well.
This is a delightful book that will engage readers, and possibly have your children wishing they had more siblings (as it did mine). I hope that it allows some readers with non [American] standard families (South-Asian and Latinx families often have grandparents at home, for example) to feel included, and not feel like they have to hide their unusual set-ups.
In fact, may we all be as brave as Florence and show up “with all the parts — stems, branches, leaves, trunk, berries, and nuts.”
More books for this Age Group can be found here.
My thanks to Familius Publishing for providing a Review Copy of this book. All opinions provided herein are my own.
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