While working on the book and pregnant, I made a promise to myself that I would complete this piece of work before my daughter was born. Unbeknownst to me, my daughter would arrive the same day as the hardcover's release date! Well, a lot has happened these last seven months, and here I am to finally share a little more about my book with you. It is with great delight to share Publishers Weekly's review for Wildberry Ink's The Village of the Trees.
In a modern-day parable about kindness and community, Roo, a woman “who builds treehouses of splendor for her village,” is unwelcoming to a stranger looking for a refuge from the cold. After Roo’s village of tree houses burns down, she and her neighbors become homeless. Getting a taste of her own medicine, Roo visits neighboring villages seeking shelter, but is turned away each time: “We do not have enough space, even for us,” says one farmer. Once Roo finds a new grove of trees and embarks on a plan to rebuild, she revisits the villages; perhaps impressed by her enterprising spirit, they share supplies—blankets, yarn, corn, stones—to help in her endeavor. Lau’s earth-toned collages resemble cut-paper artwork, gaining depth from a variety of textural elements. The familiar notion that kindness begets kindness comes through clearly, and when Roo crosses paths with the original stranger again, her attitude has softened. Yet Lau also includes a subtle undercurrent about the importance of nurturing a broad sense of community through collaboration, compassion, and the sharing of resources.
This book is dedicated to the sojourner. With the ongoing conflict abroad and crisis causing millions of people to flee their countries and seek safety elsewhere, I sought to write and illustrate a book that could reflect a community that demonstrates hospitality and welcoming of different people and those in need. Coincidentally, The Village of the Trees' tragedy also has relevance to the recent devastation by the North Bay fires that destroyed the homes, buildings, and land in Sonoma County. Through concerted effort and generosity, people in the Bay Area have provided resources, time, and energy to help meet the needs of the people and environment affected. My hope is that this picture book might inspire you and young readers to build community with positive change by the simple gifts of kindness and of ourselves wherever we are every day.