Tuesday, October 5, 2021
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Isla’s Family Tree

Isla’s Family Tree
Katrina McKelvey, and illustrator, Prue Pittock
EK Books, 2020

Isla’s Family Tree is a delightfully conceived picture book that features a little girl who can’t see how the twins her heavily pregnant mother is carrying will fit into her family.

When Isla’s mother shows her the family tree she has crafted to help illustrate how families are always growing and changing, Isla shouts, “There’s no room left on our branch – it’s full!’

Author, Katrina McKelvey, and illustrator, Prue Pittock have deliberately kept the story and visuals simple – a hard task given the complexity of families and family trees.

In the study notes for teachers and home schooling, McKelvey says, “I deliberately did not use technical language (such as generations, heritage, ancestors, inherited and so on) as this story can be used to start discussions about family types at school and at home, and can then lead to teaching a more formal way of recording family trees and histories.”

Pittock adds, “The illustrations for Isla’s family tree were created using ink, gouache and coloured pencils. I like the contrast of the black and white with a pop of colour, keeping the pages fresh and light.”

Isla’s family tree includes an adopted cousin, a same-sex couple, and the new “leaves” that are her newborn brothers. Happily, Isla finally realises: In a forest full of family trees, there are no rules about what a family looks like.

There’s a lovely moment when Isla and her adopted cousin Azalea spill strawberry milk over Azalea’s puppy during her welcome party.

The cat, which appears frequently throughout the story (though sometimes only his paws), is also marvellously expressive.

This warm and wonderful book focuses on inclusion and connection. It shows how love makes room for those around us, so everyone belongs.

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