Although The Rooted Garden is a small book in a soft pink color palette, its message is tremendous and provides a feast of food for thought.

Through words and illustrations, Piret Raud tells the story of a seemingly plain little tree who is forced to set off in search of a new home after a chainsaw arrives in their precious woods. After several days and nights, the tree finally arrives at a breathtaking garden populated by plants that value having roots above everything else. Alas, the refugee has no roots and is told they may stay in the garden only if they make themselves useful. So, the little tree promises to sweep away anything rootless it comes across, though this manner of settling in certainly doesn’t make it happy. When a bird alights in the garden and offers an incredible new perspective, the little tree’s world is transformed. Soon, the other plants also realize that there are things in life more important than simply having roots.

Adult readers can certainly divine Raud’s allegory of the global migration crisis and the issues it has led to. How can one strike a balance without losing their identity and culture after moving to a new country? How can we welcome newcomers in a way that makes them feel more at home? Is it better to point out differences, or to focus instead on what connects and unites us?

The book speaks to readers on an individual level in addition to highlighting universal perspectives. Each of us has been the little tree at one time or another, whether it was going into the first grade, trying to fit in at a new job, or joining an exercise group at a gym. The experience of standing in a doorway, your heart pounding in your chest and your eyes searching for a friendly gaze is no doubt familiar to many. Hopefully, every garden will someday be visited by a bird who helps new and old, rooted and rootless, to come together.

Like many of her earlier children’s books, Raud presents profound topics in a way that they can be easily understood without coddling the reader or watering down the substance. She has an exceptional sense for detail and a faculty for approaching problems from a variety of perspectives, thus accomplishing a polished and well-crafted whole in both illustration and text.

Piret Raud, The Rooted Garden

Tänapäev, 2020, 48 pp.

ISBN 9789949857098