The Girl Who Talked to Trees by Natasha Farrant

This book is a joyous celebration of trees, nature and one girls adventure in saving them! Check out a Q&A with author Natasha Farrant below!

THE GIRL WHO TALKED TO TREES is the second book that you have worked on together, what was it like working on this book after collaborating on Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror?

It’s always wonderful working with Lydia, because she expresses so perfectly through pictures what I am saying with my words. It was a little different working together this time, as we couldn’t meet in person because of Covid! As a result I prepared a very detailed mood board for her, complete with photographs and my own very basic map. I’m not sure I needed to, but once I started I became obsessed…

Where did the idea for the book come from?

For a long time I had been thinking about how to respond creatively to the climate and ecological crisis. It’s so difficult to know how to do this for children – how do you balance the magnitude of the crisis with hope for the future? A publishing friend once suggested that you do it through myth and fairy tale, and that really struck a chord with me. This book gave me the opportunity to do that, combining as it does science and magic.

What research did you do?

After I’d identified the trees I wanted to write about – trees I knew personally, like the lightning struck baobab plane in my local park and the tulip tree in my parents’ garden, or trees with especially cool properties, like the water-loving alder – research took many different forms. I spent time with trees, studying their bark, their shape, their leaves. I sat with them with them and listened to the sounds they made, imagining what their voices were like and what stories they would tell… But I also read a lot to gather as many hard facts about them as possible.

The book will no doubt inspire readers to get out into nature particularly to explore and take notice of trees that they may have walked past every day. Do you have any tips on how families can engage with nature in their local area?

If there are wildlife and ecology centres nearby then so much the better. Nature trails and activities can be fun. But my main tip is… SLOW DOWN AND PAY ATTENTION! Even in cities, there is so much around us! You can start with this simple action: stand at the foot of a tree, place your hands on the trunk, lean forward and look up. If you can, repeat this through the changing seasons. You’ll see trees in a whole new way…

How would you suggest that young people can use local nature to inspire creativity in the classroom or at home?

Since the beginning of time, nature has informed human creativity – just look at prehistoric cave paintings. Why not bring nature treasures into the classroom or home – sticks, pebbles, acorns, pine cones, leaves (please pick them up from the ground, not off a tree) and imagine them some magical properties? What powers would they give you? What would you do with them?

What is your favourite tree and why?
Oh, I have many favourite trees! At this time of the year, it is the little-known spindle tree. Most of the year it looks like an unassuming shrub. It waits for every other tree to shed its leaves and when the hedges are brown and dull it bursts into pink and orange – so brave and flamboyant!

THE GIRL WHO TALKED TO TREES by Natasha Farrant, illustrated by Lydia Corry is out now in hardback (£12.99, Zephyr Books)

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