The Three Tree

Retold by Madison Farkas
Illustrated by Sakshi Mangal
Friesen Press (2021)
ISBN 978-1525591563
Reviewed by Eve Panzer, The Barefoot Librarian, for Reader Views Kids (06/2021)

“The Three Tree” by Madison Farkas is a charming retelling of a tale with relevant, universal messages. A plucky young girl is the heroine who saves the day for her town. She provides an excellent female role model, exhibiting self-confidence and self-esteem. So much can be accomplished if you believe in yourself.

The town in the story is known for counting to five. Every person in the village counts to five every chance they get, including when they wake up and when they go to bed. However, an “Evil, Mean, Mad Magician” steals the number three. Every time a villager tries to count to five, they can’t because the number three is missing. What can the town do?

The wise old woman gathers the townspeople and tells them, “All is not lost!” she said. “Someone must go to the castle in the clouds and rescue our three. But that’s where the Evil, Mean, Mad Magician lives!” the townspeople protested. “It’s so far away and so dangerous! We can’t go there! We’ll never see our three again!”

The wise woman knows that it will take the strongest, bravest, and smartest person in the town to rescue their three. Surprisingly, a spunky young girl is an unexpected hero who knows she is the strongest, bravest, and most intelligent person in town. Not your typical protagonist, she wears glasses, has a curly mop of hair, and sports a pair of suspenders and green pants. However, with grit, determination, and cleverness, she saves the day.

The vocabulary is rich, engaging, and descriptive. The author has fun with words through repetition or creating a rhyming scheme within a sentence. For example, the Evil, Mean, Mad Magician “…tippy-toed, tippy-toed” to the town hall. And in this sentence, “He snuck up, plucked the three from its spot, and stuck it into his pocket.” Here the author uses playful alliteration, “She skulked and snuck…” and “The little girl skidded and slid…”. Throughout the book are challenging terms as “nestled,” “plucked,” “perilous,” “shimmied,” and “skulked.” Their meaning is decipherable through the context and helps grow children’s vocabulary.

The illustrations are delightful. The characters are somewhat cartoonlike, giving the tale a lighthearted feeling. The colors are slightly muted and earth-toned but cheerful. The illustrator’s depiction of nighttime scenes especially standout. Also notable is the inclusion of endearing details such as a dog, a child’s stuffed animal, and a child’s doll in the gathering of townspeople lead by the wise woman.

This charming tale has many noteworthy aspects. First, strong and intelligent females save the town. Second, the young girl is confident, believing herself to be the bravest, strongest, and the smartest person in the town – and she uses all three of these attributes to rescue the number three. In addition, she does not look the part of the traditional heroine. All of these characteristics create a positive role model for young girls.

This story contains many elements which make it a successful addition to the folk tale genre. It includes a fun adventure with a mean but not too scary villain; the author engages in a playful use of words; the vocabulary is challenging but easily understandable through context; positive messages about self-confidence – especially for young girls – are delivered. Add to this the charming illustrations, and you have a noteworthy folktale.

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