Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing

Written by: Hiawyn Oram

Illustrated by: Birgitta Sif

For ages:3-7 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Environmental activism, social-emotional development, independent thought

Summary: Snowboy is playing a game by himself one day when approached by Greenbackboy.  Greenbackboy has an idea to play a game called KA-CHING, and invites Snowboy to the forest.  Greenbackboy wants to cut down all of the trees, but Snowboy saves one by hiding it under his magic cloak.  Greenbackboy shows Snowboy the KA-CHING he received in exchange for all of the cut down trees-glowing chests of gold.  Snowboy looks uneasy about this exchange, but Greenbackboy explains that they should want more KA-CHING and thus must go to the oceans.

Greenbackboy tells Snowboy to help him catch all of the fish in order to get more KA-CHING.  Snowboy does this, but thinks “what’s a sea without fish? A dead sea, that’s what” and sneakily returns two fish when Greenbackboy’s back is turned.  Snowboy is sitting on the dock looking glum when Greenbackboy returns with a pile of KA-CHING he got in exchange for the fish.  He begins to tell Snowboy what they can do for more golden when suddenly a “terrible storm blew up, drowning his words”. Greenbackboy’s KA-CHING is swept into the sea!  Snowboy leaves Greenbackboy, and travels back to his hidden tree.  He nurses the tree to grow big and strong and helps to heal the ravaged landscape.  Snowboy checks in on the fish he released, and sees that they have been growing up and having little fish of their own!  Snowboy is returning the landscape to it’s previously thriving environment, and tells Greenbackboy to ask nicely from nature and to leave some for the next day in order to thrive himself.  Snowboy falls asleep, knowing that for now at least his beloved forest is safe.

This book is whimsically illustrated, and subtly drives home the importance of natural resource conservation.  It teaches the importance of standing up for what’s right, and Snowboy reaches these conclusions quietly yet independently.  This style shows that activism does not have to be loud, it just has to be done.  Even a single person can have a drastic impact on the world around them, Snowboy saves the forest and the ocean with his animal companions.  This book is a fantastic example of independent thought and doing what’s right, even if you’re all alone at first.

Reflection Questions: 

  • Why do you think Snowboy plays KA-CHING with Greenbackboy?
  • What do you think makes Snowboy stop playing KA-CHING?
  • Think of something in your community you could help grow big and strong, like the tree that Snowboy saves.
  • How do you think Greenbackboy feels at the end of the book when Snowboy helps him one last time?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Visit your community’s forestry department and learn about which trees are planted in your area, and how the department takes care of them.
  • Plant a tree as a class, somewhere it can grow big and strong!
  • Learn about trees notice to your area, and how they keep the landscape healthy.
  • Go on a nature scavenger hunt to find different kinds of leaves; make some art with the leaves!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

hiawyn oramHiawyn Oram was born in South Africa. A childhood filled with space, wildlife, books and ideas but plagued by the cruel apartheid regime which only came to an end in 1993, many years after she’d left. She did a BA in English and Drama at the University of Natal, now the University of Kwa Zulu. After graduating she became an advertising copywriter for J. Walter Thomson in Johannesburg and then, exiling herself to London with barely a penny to her name, she wrote ads for toothpaste, chocolate bars and Lucozade at Leo Burnett. Skittlewonder and the Wizard was her first children’s book, published in 1977. She has published over 100 books including Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing.

birgitta sif

Birgitta Sif‘s books have been published in UK, USA, Iceland, Sweden, Greece, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Norway, Australia and Canada. She received her BFA in Drawing and Design from Cornell University in 2003, and her MA in Childrens Book Illustration from the Cambridge School of Art in 2011. Her illustrations were featured in the Peters Book of the Year, Miss Hazeltine.

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