The sheltering limbs of a family tree
What kind of a children's book would you expect from one of the original writers for Saturday Night Live ? Sarcastic? In-your-face? Cutting edge?Our Tree Named Steve, the new book by Alan Zweibel, is a surprisingly down-home and nostalgic tribute to family life. Written in the form of a letter and dedicated to his wife, three children and dog, the book begins: Dear Kids, A long time ago, when you were little, Mom and I took you to where we wanted to build a house for us to live in. The lot needs to be cleared, but the kids fall in love with a large tree that the baby of the family calls Steve, because she can't pronounce tree. Zweibel and his wife ask that the tree be spared, and thus, Zweibel explains, The day we moved in, Steve was there to greet us. With outstretched limbs, Steve watches the family, serving as a swing holder, target, third base, hiding place, jump-rope turner, and even an underwear holder when the dryer breaks down. Readers watch as the three kids romp and camp, and as Mom and Dad dance in the moonlight. Steve weathers snowstorms and sewer floods and even requires a visit from the tree doctor. Through it all, however, Steve stands tall, serving as a beloved touchstone for the family. As Zweibel touchingly explains: Through the years, Mom and I have tried to show you, in a world filled with strangers, the peace that comes with having things you can count on and a safe place to return to after a hard day or a long trip. The tale is touchingly yet comically illustrated by the wonderful David Catrow, who magically blends smiles and beauty on every page. Steve appears to be a stately beech tree, a rock-solid foundation for this lively, active family. Kirby the dog is a spiky-haired mutt who frolics, with Catrow's lively imprint, and the humans are frumpy, befuddled, wide-eyed and very lovable. Snuggle your kids close as you read them this joyous tale of family life and don't let them grow up too quickly as, of course, they all do.