"The Treasure Tree" by John & Cindy Trent and Gary & Norma Smalley.
Illustrated by Judy Love
Published 1992 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
I love the ability of story to bridge topics, opening contemplation and conversation. We are all drawn to story, whether through books, movies, theater. Even our dreams tell a story while we sleep.
"The Treasure Tree" is a real treasure for this reason, because it sparks thought and discourse through story. It’s about four best friends: a lion named Lance, a golden retriever named Honey, a beaver named Chewy, and an otter named Giggles.
Giggles, Lance, Chewy, and Honey are having a party, and a wise old owl gives them a gift—a magical treasure map to the Treasure Tree.
They embark on the journey over hills and rivers, overcoming obstacles, each contributing in their unique way to accomplish the goal. Lance is a take-charge go-getter. Honey is sweet and thoughtful, speaking up for those who cannot. Chewy is detailed and organized. And Giggles is silly and fun.
My family loves this book. We were introduced to it several years ago by my own wise owl, a friend I greatly admire. Her adult children went on and on about their memories of this book in childhood.
The great thing about “The Treasure Tree” is that each animal embodies aspects of a distinct personality to which the reader (of any age) can relate. I’m sort of a cross between the golden retriever and the lion, but there are aspects of my personality that are the other animals too.
The illustrations are beautiful. Judy Love captures each animal and personality with every page.
Having five children, I relate differently with each of them. Understanding each of their strengths helps me appreciate them more, and consider how they might feel love. The otter might feel more loved by me laughing at their joke even if it made no sense, while the beaver might really appreciate me noticing the cleanliness of their room. The lions may like when I let them be the boss for a day, and the golden retriever would probably love to sit and talk about feelings (which, being a golden retriever myself, I love too). Their personalities are still developing too, so I expect as we read this book over years and years the otter will begin to show her lion aspects and the beaver his sweet golden retriever heart.
God creates us so intricately. Over seven billion people on this planet and no two are exactly alike. "The Treasure Tree" can be a helpful tool but no two otters or lions will be alike. The mind of God is unfathomable in this way.
I’ve found The Treasure Tree exceptionally valuable when we've hit rough patches in parenting. When everyone is just sick of each other, needing a break from one another. In those times of life, I like to cancel things, stay in our jammies and read books snuggled up on the couch. And “The Treasure Tree” helps me see the real treasures all around also snuggling on the couch.