Snibbles (a young hedgehog) and Big Tree are best friends and love each other very much. When Big Tree falls ill with woodworm, Snibbles is very upset and angry. The illness is a very bad one which needs lots of medical treatment, and Big Tree doesn’t feel very well. He is tired, loses his leaves and doesn’t want to play. Snibbles is keen to help Big Tree get better. He gives him hugs and kisses, wraps him up warmly and stays close by. After a long time and lots of waiting, Big Tree begins to recover.
The story is quite unusual. The choice of a tree to represent a poorly loved one raises a few plot challenges (for example, the tree does not talk, so his side of the story is not really covered). However, the children we read this book with were not at all confused by the concept of a sick tree having ‘human’ medical treatment. The author has included lots of comforting words and messages of hope for children who are dealing with a life-threatening illness of a loved one. The story is particularly reflective of cancer treatment, as the tree’s treatment is similar to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and hair loss (or leaf loss!) is touched upon. Rocia Del Moral’s mixed-media illustrations compliment the story well. There are a number of suggested activities and art projects provided in the back of the book, intended to help children process the strong emotions they may experience. Nathalie Slosse underwent cancer treatment herself when her child was just a toddler. Her challenging personal experiences have led her to provide a well-executed and much-needed resource for young children.