I’ve been pretty successful in my quest to cut out sugar, but when I read sweet stories like this one, oh dear, I can feel myself slipping. Jokes. My Magnificent Jelly Bean Tree, by Maura Finn and Aura Parker, is a feast of colour and imagination. Apples, peaches, pears—all sweet delights that grow on trees. Then why not jelly beans?
Some people might say that it’s impossible for such things to sprout, let alone become tall trees that grows more jelly beans, fresh and delicious. Not the boy in this story. “If I had a jelly bean tree, I would care for it while it was small. Sprinkle on sugar, and jugfuls of jam, then watch it grow sturdy and tall.” Told in rhyme, it’s wonderfully lyrical and surprising. The boy cares for his tree, his jelly beans, protects them from harm, builds himself a treehouse with a slide, and crowns himself the Jelly Bean King! He has everything his heart desires, well, almost. The Jelly Bean King is a kind and generous sovereign, and longs to share his jelly beans with those he loves. Parker’s illustrations are fanciful, in a world where dreams meet reality. Bright colours are prominent against white, until there’s that longing in the story—a beautiful scene set against the night sky. The ending touches on the notion that the impossible can be possible. A jelly bean tree? You never know. Any dream a child may have, if they pursue it with the qualities shown by the boy—faith, imagination, determination, a nurturing heart, and perseverance—you never know.
Read this one out loud with kids. Discover what treats they wish could grow into trees—sweet or savoury. It’ll make for a scrumptious story time, that’s for sure.