My Love Will Never Leave You

A wise old tree teaches his young sapling all that she needs to know about life, love and carrying on after a loss in Stephen Hogtun's touching, warm and reassuring debut children's book, My Love Will Never Leave You.

The old tree has been devoted to the sapling ever since she was a seedling. He's "watched over and cared for her" and "helped her branches grow true and strong." One morning, the little tree wants to know about the heart-shaped leaves covering his branches. He answers, "These are memories of the life I've led." When the sapling asks if she will grow similar leaves, the old tree realizes that it's time for the little tree to "see and learn" for herself. The old tree teaches the young sapling many things, and one day the little tree has her own heart-shaped leaves. All is well until autumn, when some of the old tree's leaves fall; as the weather grows colder, his leaves become fewer. Eventually, the old tree must go, but not before assuring the young one, "Each time the wind blows, in your leaves is where you'll find me."

Hogtun's text is relatively spare and poetic. His choice to use trees as walking, talking stand-ins for humans is an inspired one, infusing a sense of fantasy into the weighty discussion of mortality. The luminous illustrations convey plenty of emotion and conjure a pervasive sense of dreaminess and wonder. This allegorical offering gently inspires readers to understand that while "we cannot stop the seasons," sorrow will almost certainly be followed by joyful moments of surprise and renewal. --Lynn Becker, reviewer, blogger and children's book author

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