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Apple and Magnolia by Laura Gehl

The last couple of years have been hard on the world and it has taken a toll on all of us in different ways, especially educators and their students. As we move away from masking and social distancing toward the end of this pandemic, I find myself having a bit of difficulty in adjusting. Masking and social distancing were new terms that seemed foreign and uncomfortable at the start of the pandemic, but the removal of them has me wondering how we all get back to normal anyway, especially in terms of our social connections. 

But this book gives me hope. 

Apple and Magonia by Laura Gehl tells the story of the friendship between Apple and Magnolia, two trees in Britta’s yard that she’s sure are best friends, much to the dismay of her father and sister. But Nana knows better, understanding that unusual friendships can be the most powerful of all. 

When Magnolia’s branches start to droop and her leaves start to fall, Nana’s faith in unlikely friendships is what fuels Britta to do something about it. She made old-fashioned telephone cups to connect the two trees together so they could listen to each other’s sighs and songs. She made a long scarf and wrapped it around both trees so they could feel each other’s warmth. She even hung a strand of twinkling lights between the two trees so they could see each other clearly. 

Slowly, the indescribable connection between the two trees starts to come back, the physical distance between them growing smaller and smaller by Britta’s calculations. And when both trees burst into Bloom, Britta wrapped the trees in pink necklaces to celebrate the power of this unusual connection and friendship.

Apple and Magnolia is a beautiful book both on the heart and on the page. The delicate, colorful illustrations bring the story to life in beautiful hues of color and childlike wonder. 

I couldn’t help but read this book with a bursting sense of hope for building back the connections we may have lost in the pandemic and for creating new, possibly unusual, friendships as we try to emerge from the pandemic more appreciative of our social connections than we entered it.

This artfully crafted message will keep readers young and old thinking long after the final page is closed. It’s the perfect book to read as we look forward to rebuilding connections we may have lost, strengthen those we still have and look to find new connections in places we may not have previously looked. But, if you’re looking to take a more concrete, content-based approach, Gehl offers an author’s note offering facts on how trees do indeed communicate with each other and even provides readers with a discussion guide to explore how trees are connected to one another and to us, too.

This beautiful book is for everyone. 

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