As long as I have been reading, I have been drawn to stories about women (and girls) who did things on their own. I read everything I could get my hands on. There was The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Anastasia Krupnik.Then later, there was Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi about an 18 year old girl who sails around the world alone except for her cat. But the book I kept thinking about while reading Katy Farber’s The Order of the Trees was The Legacy of Luna by Julia Butterfly Hill who climbs a 1,000 year old Redwood tree in Northern California and lives there for more than two years! I never wanted to live in a tree, but there is nothing more appealing than passion and care for the way one chooses to live one’s life.
In The Order of the Trees, Farber crafts a mysterious story of a baby found at the base of an old growth tree. The man and woman who find her, adopt her and name her Cedar. The rest of this middle grade book centers on Cedar’s sixth grade year. She clearly does not fit in at school, but manages to befriend one kind boy named Phillip. Together they deal with the negative comments and simple minds of the other sixth graders. After Cedar falls ill, it will be Phillip who finds a way to help her heal through the powers of the natural world and the order of trees. Woven tightly into this book is the theme of caring for our environment. At times the theme can feel a bit contrived, but Farber stays true to the story and to her intent to help children see that they can (and should) help save Mother Earth.
Katy Farber is a teacher, author, and founder of the blog Non-Toxic Kids. Her character Cedar represents the importance of trees in our lives. They need to be here and we are the only ones who can protect them. I will recommend this to my students because a) It is a way into the minds of kids who may be wondering what they can do and b) The cover is beautiful, the book is a perfect size for a small person’s hand, and it is just 117 short pages of pure story which many of my students will appreciate greatly.