It was Oscar’s favorite tree, the one with the honey mushrooms growing underneath, the one with the five massive branches rising up and out of the trunk like a flower.
Had it looked so old when Oscar had last been here? The bark was gray, fading. The leaves were thinning like an old man’s hair. There was a long welt of missing bark in the middle of the trunk, and some kind of dark fungus was growing in the welt.
The tree looked so tired. They all did…Oscar walked up and put his hand on the trunk. The gentle warmth pressed into his palm, a reassurance. Despite all the things churning inside him, the touch of the tree eased him a little, as surely as a cat’s purr. As it always had.
“Is this the right thing to do?” Oscar whispered, running his hand along the trunk. “Is this what you want?”
No answer, just the same steady warmth. It was the same as it had always been, Oscar realized. Though this tree was drooping and thinning…though it was so tired, this feeling of some steady, generous vitality in all the wizard trees had never lessened. It was the essence of the tree, the truth at its core.
Excerpt taken from The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
Monday's Riddle clued us in on children's author Anne Ursu, and we've been caught up in her world of magic all week. Lizzy's review of The Real Boy took us into the Barrow, and today we're excited to host this exclusive art reveal. The illustrations in both Breadcrumbs and The Real Boy will captivate your imagination as the words wrap around you like your favorite blanket.
It was awesome to get to choose a picture, and we picked this one because of the depth of feeling it reveals in each pencil stoke. The picture represents the infinite connection we have with nature, and the mystical qualities of roots that run deep.
This author/ artist combination compliment each other brilliantly, telling a story that will stay with you long after you put the book down.
It has been our pleasure to bring you the tales of Anne Ursu- she is a master of her craft and a true storyteller. : )
Anne Ursu is the author of Breadcrumbs, which was acclaimed as one of the best books of 2011 by The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Amazon.com and the Chicago Public Library. It was also an IndieBound Next List Pick, an NPR Backseat Book Club featured selection, and received four starred reviews. Anne lives in Minneapolis with her son and three cats.
Erin McGuire is a children’s book illustrator living in Dallas, Texas. She has illustrated such books as Nancy Drew Diaries, Breadcrumbs, Saranormal, and French Ducks in Venice. Outside of work, she enjoys her book club, baking, and camping. As an avid reader and lifelong lover of books, getting to illustrate stories for kids every day is her dream job. Erin’s work can be found on her website and on her blog.
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