Lily wants a tree for her birthday. Although she and her father live in a tiny dark apartment, she promises to give it water and sun and air. But after she receives her tree—whom she names George—even Lily can’t imagine how their daily walks will change the neighborhood!

With George in a wagon, the two friends explore Lily’s street, greeting neighbors who are happy to sit in George’s shade. It turns out he’s the only tree on the street! Soon Lily’s friends want trees of their own. And together they become a small forest that travels from one end of the city to the other. Once word gets around, more people join in—with plants and flowers, chairs and picnic blankets, books and instruments.

This uplifting new picture book by Marie-Louise Gay is inspired by a project by the landscape artist Bruno Doedens and the late Joop Mulder called Bosk (meaning “forest”) in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden. It reminds us that—if we dare to imagine it—we can change the world, one tree at a time.


Key Text Features



author's note



Correlates to the Common Core States Standards in English Language Arts:


Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.


Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.


Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.


An elysian vision grounded in real-world practicality.

- Publishers Weekly

Another gem added to Gay's oeuvre, Walking Trees will get readers excited about summer, and certainly even more excited about the idea of bringing nature closer to home. A fine pick for the budding environmentalist, leader, or changemaker in the family.

- Montreal Review of Books

Gay's cheerful story will help build appreciation for trees and encourage children to view them with care and affection ... A perfect choice for Earth Day.

- Booklist

Gay offers a gentle tale of community and environmentalism, highlighting the beauty of the natural world as well as the innovative thinking and generosity it might take to maintain and care for an environment when it is under threat.

- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Gay’s distinctive, detailed art ... illustrates how the walking trees help bring a community together to enjoy the outdoors.

- Montreal Gazette

As usual, Gay's illustrations are simple and quirky.

- Winnipeg Free Press

A winning story ... Gay captures the joy of a diverse urban community bonding over nature that brings beauty to their locale and lives.

- Horn Book

Gay's story is well told ... Walking Trees is a book that offers hope.

- CM: Canadian Review of Materials

A lovely example of young people taking small steps toward sustainability.

- Kirkus Reviews