When it comes to my stories posts, I’ve decided reviews and recommendations are not enough. I also want to talk a little more generally about the overarching things that pull me into stories, whether that be themes, characters, genres, tropes, etc. Reading about specific books or shows is nice, but sometimes it’s easier to interact with a post if it touches on broader themes (and I’m all about interaction here).
To start off, today I wanted to highlight one of my favorite types of characters in fiction: tree people!
Now, I have this strange memory from when I was a teen where my mom and I went on a little road trip and stopped at this place where a guide would take you on a horse trail around the area. I’m pretty sure it was educational and insightful then, but there is only one specific part of it I remember: at one point during the tour the driver picked me out of the group and made a comment about how I looked like a tree lover and might run off to go hug a tree at any moment. I think this incident was around my goth days so he may have just been being ironic at the time, but there was a certain truth to what he said. While I do not run around talking to trees on a daily basis, I do find great comfort in their presence and walking in the woods surrounded by a bunch of trees is one of my favorite things.
Of course, the trees I love and experience daily never come to life – or not in the sense that they walk and talk. They grow and they creak and they shed leaves, but that’s about the most action I get to see.
In fiction though, they have a chance to do so much more. And I LOVE IT!
There’s just something about taking an everyday staple of real life – trees – and making them come alive that I can’t get enough of. It makes you look at those things differently, and makes the child in you believe that maybe when you’re not around the things you ignore on a day-to-day basis really do come to life. (We all need a little belief in magic, I believe. It helps you stay excited about the world.)
And I really like considering how they would act if alive: would they be as calm and peaceful as they tend to seem? Or would being alive unleash their wrath and destruction would be brought upon us all?
Without further ado, here are some of my favorite trees in fiction (which, for the most part, seem to fit the peaceful description – unless provoked):
The Ents from the Lord of the Rings series, whether we’re talking about the films or the books, are one of the first fictional trees I fell in love with. There is just something so endearing about these old and slow beings. They may take forever to decide things, but I like that they don’t rush into making decisions. (It’s a good lesson, I think.) Plus, when it comes down to it, they still kick ass. Ah, just typing this makes me want to re-watch the series.
I’m going to be 100% honest here, I actually never quite understood the hype for Guardians of the Galaxy. It was enjoyable, sure, but it wasn’t the best thing ever for me (and I’m not rushing to see the sequel). That being said, I did fall hard for Groot thanks to this movie. Who knew a character that had such a limited vocabulary (“I am Groot”) could be so lovable? Especially when in his baby form. (Would it be cruel to say I’d be tempted to keep him in his baby form forever? I can’t help it!)
Okay, I’m not quite sure if this last one counts as a tree, per se, but I’m pretty sure it’s close enough. Pickett is a Bowtruckle from the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie and awww, as I mentioned in my review, this little guy is so cute. While those attachment issues Pickett has may need to be sorted some time, there’s no doubt in my mind I would carry him around with me everywhere I went too, if I were Newt. He comes in handy! (Though seriously, I wanted to punch Newt when that one scene happened where Pickett’s life seemed to be in great danger…)
And for some honorable mentions who I did not draw but love just the same:
- The Walkers from Uprooted (see my review here) – One of the best things about this series is that the trees comes to life and they’re EVIL! They mislead and kidnap and attack people – all the things. It was refreshing reading a story with that kind of perspective around the trees when most seem so nice (though also sort of creepy)!
- The Monster from A Monster Calls – I’m actually shocked that I almost forgot this one, but I think it’s fair enough because the monster isn’t necessarily a tree. It’s just the form he chose while talking to the MC. Still, he definitely deserves a mention, especially because Jim Kay’s art depicting him is so beautiful.
- The Whomping Willow from the Harry Potter series – Okay, I actually see the Whomping Willow as more of like a Venus flytrap, something that moves based on reflex and not because it’s a sentient being, but hey, it’s still a cool tree. (Plus Weeping Willows are my favorite trees so their Whomping cousins deserve some love.)
- The Giving Tree – If we want to be real about what fictional tree first won over my heart, it is The Giving Tree. I read the picture book as a kid and oh gosh, that tree. It’s been years since I’ve read the story but just thinking about it breaks my heart all over again. If you haven’t read it, go to a library and see what I’m talking about.
Now it’s your turn! What do you think about living trees in fiction? Love them, hate them, indifferent towards them? Are there any I didn’t include in my list that you love, or any that I listed that you agree are the absolute best? Let me know in the comments below!