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A touching and uplifting story about love, change and the importance of the natural environment in all our lives.

One tall tree on the mountain once marked Grandfather’s farm. Now there is a busy city and Grandfather lives with us in our apartment.

Once he told stories but now he stays silent. Until one day, in the city market, I find something precious . . . something that brings Grandfather’s memories alive again.


Grandfather used to live happily on a farm, nearest the tallest tree on a mountain. Now he lives with his family in a small apartment in a crowded city and he is silent and sad. When his grandson, the narrator, takes home a tiny tree he’s rescued from a footpath, Grandfather is at first dismissive, but gradually becomes involved in helping his grandson tend to the tree. Christopher Cheng’s Chinese heritage informs this book and it’s a privilege for us to be included as readers. One Tree acknowledges the old ways while being realistic, but not negative, about modern life. It shows there are always possibilities for change and it emphasises how lucky we are to have elders in our lives—and how important it is to listen to them. Bruce Whatley’s illustrations are wonderful. Whatley uses a new technique that has the appearance of linocut pictures, although it has been achieved digitally. Not only do the pictures extend the text, but they deepen it, and it’s this technique that gives the story an extra layer of interest and meaning. We follow Grandfather’s life, with its obvious changes, but we also see that renewal and regeneration are possible for both people and their environments. This is an outstanding, life-affirming book that will surely stand the test time. It is recommended for those aged five and up.

Louise Pfanner, Books + Publishing

This is a beautiful narrative of love, family, resilience and nature. One senses that there could be a very personal back story to this new book and Bruce Whatley’s stunning illustrations capture perfectly the sense of Chinese culture in a linocut style. This is a splendid picture book which I would predict will be firmly and rightfully placed in award lists in the coming year. Highly recommended for young readers from around six years upwards

Sue Warren, OZ-TL network of educators

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Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    April 2, 2019


    32 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Creating new work with Bruce Whatley

Words from Bruce Whatley about his creative process working on One Tree

Also by Christopher Cheng