The Perfect Tree: Planting Seeds for Love for Nature

A colorful spread in the children's book "The Perfect Tree" by Glory Moralidad, with half of a page flipped. It shows five people surrounding a tree.

There are books that I wish I had written and one of them is “The Perfect Tree.”

It’s not just because of the melodic text, in particular the way its author, Glory Moralidad, masterfully started the book. Writers claim you cannot do worldbuilding in a short story, but those first two spreads transported me straight into the village of Anyag. I’ve read hundreds of children’s books as a hobby reader and a school librarian, and to be honest, few have grabbed my attention that way.

As I said, though, it’s not just the words.

The Story of The Perfect Tree

This heartwarming story, accompanied by illustrations of Baguio-based artist Danielle Florendo and written in English and Hiligaynon, tells the tale of Anyag, a fictional village which became a famous destination for their trees, particularly a majestic narra tree.

For many years, the tourism brought by their beautiful trees was the village’s main source of income. But as the narra tree aged and neared the end of its life, the people began to fear the impending loss for their village. The datu and the villagers had to do something in an attempt to save their precious tree and their livelihood.

Why does this sound familiar? Easily, because it is our story. Anyag is the whole world, and its villagers, us. You don’t have to make extra efforts to see the similarities between the book and the real world. Art imitates life, and The Perfect Tree imitates how we as a society pursue progress at the expense of nature. So, even if you don’t speak Hiligaynon, the universal message of The Perfect Tree will still resonate.

Rooted in Reality

Image of author Glory Moralidad, surrounded by watercolor illustrations of leaves and flowers

It’s not surprising that the book is beautifully created, fun, insightful, and perfect for storytelling. Its author, Glory, is also the founder of Bata Ako Ph, a children’s rights volunteer organization based in Iloilo. The organization aims to bring back the art of storytelling as well as provide opportunities for children to reach their full potential through the conduct of various sustainable activities.

Glory’s work in Bata Ako Ph could be the reason why The Perfect Tree retains empathy for the characters. In my work in Learning Resource Management and Development, we are always reminded to immerse ourselves in the lives of the people for whom we are creating stories. The worries and fears felt by the people of Anyag could also be the worries and fears felt by the children that the organization tries to reach.

So, the author doesn’t condemn the villagers; after all, they were only trying to survive. Sometimes, it’s convenient to paint a group of people as the “bad guys” without considering that what they did, short-sighted as it was, was the only immediate solution they knew. The reality is growing trees takes years, and for one as lofty as the narra in the story, it would take hundreds. Hunger, however, cannot wait.

Rooted in Love for Plants and Animals

Dani Florendo

Maybe you already know Danielle, or have read one of the stories she had illustrated as Dani Florendo. I do. I personally have read a couple of storybooks she worked on. I have always loved the warmth of her colors and the flow of her lines and spirals. It’s not difficult to pick her work among hundreds and thousands of books. When you see one, you immediately get the feeling that it is a Dani Florendo, and it’s the same with her work on this story. So, just from the cover, there was already a feeling of familiarity.

Learning that the illustrator loves illustrating flora and fauna makes me believe this love served as the heart that pumped life into each page. It’s crucial that the illustrator perfectly conveys what the writer wants to say, and this time, Dani delivered. You would see abundance and hope when that’s what the page needed. You would feel the dryness and emptiness when that’s what the text says. If it was me, I still wouldn’t have picked a different illustrator for The Perfect Tree.

Redemption Arc for Everyone

A colorful spread in the children's book "The Perfect Tree" by Glory Moralidad, with half of a page flipped. It shows five people surrounding a tree.

I love many things about the story, but the way it touches governance is what I love the most. It vilifies neither those in leadership positions nor their constituents. Facing the consequences of their actions, the people, especially those at the fringes of society who experienced the aftermath firsthand, had to look back to history and the wisdom of the old.

On the other hand, the government made a grave blunder. But it listened to the people and rectified its mistakes. In the end, as in real life, the solution requires the government and the people to work together toward the common good.

It also doesn’t vilify progress. It is not a single action but greed. Imagine if the village stopped at one tree – it would have been enough to save their Anyag. Instead, greed took over. Like in real life, greed is the issue.

I am impressed by the compassionate and holistic solution that the book presents, and I hope that our libraries’ benefactors in the local government would appreciate the message as well.

Why We Should Care

Colorful spread of the story "The Perfect Tree" with graphics of humans looking at a tree

San Jose City, an agro-industrial city in northern Nueva Ecija, is one of the many places that benefit from the protection of Sierra Madre. From the highway, we can see large, balding patches of the mountains every day, and it’s sad. We San Josenios have a direct stake in what happens to Sierra Madre, and we must do our share before it’s too late.

Throughout history, stories have been used as a potent tool in transferring culture and ideas from generation to generation. If we want to raise children who care about the environment, allow them to read stories that show them how to. This is why I firmly believe books like The Perfect Tree are useful in inculcating in readers, especially the young, the value of taking care of trees.

Plus, the book contains interesting facts about the narra tree and simple, doable ways of saving the environment, so it doubles as a learning resource.

Want to Get The Perfect Tree?

Mockup of the children's book The Perfect Tree against a white background

Now, if you’re still thinking if you should get the book, this is your sign and here’s how.

You can get a copy of The Perfect Tree for your little ones and for your public and school libraries by ordering through this form. Each copy is sold at PhP 250 plus shipping.

You can also buy the book at Palabasalibro Bookstore in Mandurriao, Iloilo City, Pumplepie Books and Happiness, Mt. Cloud Bookshop in Baguio, Esquina Coffee in Jaro, Iloilo City, and on Amazon. We can find The Perfect Tree on Etsy, Shopee and Lazada soon, too!

So, how about you? Have you read the book? Or, do you have a favorite book about the environment? Share your thoughts in the commments below!

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