Eleven-year-old Emma doesn’t know that she comes from generations of tree singers, passed from mother to daughter. She doesn’t believe she can sing.
Her ailing grandmother has just come to live with the family. Her father is hardly ever at home. Her mother has been acting strange. To add to Emma’s troubles, her mother’s great uncle from England is coming to stay. Then, a strange old woman wearing a hat full of feathers appears mysteriously in her garden. She gives Emma a white swan feather that emits a haunting melody.
Emma’s only solace is the oak tree in her garden, which she names Annie Oakley. What she does not yet know is that Annie is part of a network of tree spirits who disguise themselves as old women. These spirits have come to Peachtree City to help Emma remember her mission to sing the Song of Creation and save the Great Mother tree.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
This ‘song’ of fiction, is a delight and full of messages ‘of the moment’. Susan Elizabeth Hale has created a short novel that will delight and intrigue youngsters and oldsters alike!
Having just returned from my childhood place just outside Oxford this story chimed in so many ways. Oxfordshire, like my current county of residence – Worcestershire, is seeing huge residential developments, and I wonder both about the impacts of housebuilding and supporting infrastructure, as well as the loss of green space and, yes, trees. In fact my childhood place of play that included a large horsechestnut is now a housing estate and did sadden me somewhat. This novel follows the journey of a family embroiled in a residential development both from the building perspective and the deeply connected tree-realm perspective. The novel follows Emma, her tree totem “annie” and her tree colleagues, and the rest of her family, on a bit of a rollercoaster ride from her grannie’s and mother’s childhood experiences in nature through to her own underground adventures.
The story has elements of alice in wonderland, lord of the rings and traditional wandertales that make this an enchanting and yet deeply moving and connective story of ‘family’ and nature. While there were times when the two sides of the argument followed stereotypes a little too literally for me, in the end the suspense, lyrical writing and poetry won through and kept me in the story to the final sentence. The narrative weaves in both the deeply spiritual and heartfelt attachment we have for trees and includes even the most recent findings of the hidden lives of trees. It really gets to the ways in how trees ‘communicate’ in both the ‘scientific’ sense and, more importantly for me, the metaphorical sense. Ways we communicate are explored and, in the end, the rhythmical singing that is true to the human self wins out.
Jon Cree, Director of Forest School Association and Training Co-ordinator FSC Bishops Wood Centre.
I commend this book to any children and youngsters engaged with trees, particularly 7 years up to 14, including those participating in a Forest School programme.
~ Jon Cree, Forest School Association Newsletter
" A magical tale embroidered with extraordinary beings. Interlaced with mystery, ancestal hoops, the woof and warp of human alignment, Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation whisks us into the tapestry of a child's love, doubts and hopes. Needling dreams (deferred, besmirched, resurrected) cavort with communal and familal patterns of destruction and reformation. Troubles, tumbles and triumphs present as timely companions to choice. An engaging sensory treat affirms the One Heritage: the power of family, friends, cooperation. Imagination struts upon a stellar look to weave and woo the potency of sound." Author of Rain Weavers (poetry) and The School House (juvenile fiction.)
Judith Hamilton author of Rain Weavers (poetr) and The School House (juvenile fiction) ~ Judith Hamilton
I have just finished reading Susan Hale’s wonderful book Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation to my three children. They have been so inspired by Emma and her bravery in this beautiful story.
Rachel Wood, artist
~ Rachel Wood
This magical tale, aimed squarely at tween girls, explores several important elements -- the controversy surrounding urbanization, the joys and challenges of multi-generational relationships, and the bonds between siblings and peers even in old age -- to name just a few. All those complex relationships are interwoven throughout the story where trees are disguised as old women, where animals talk, where music is the lifeblood of the earth, and where good wins out over evil. The story moves quickly via humorous, age-appropriate dialogue as a family comes together around shared values and a deepening respect for one another. A worldview that clearly sides with the preservation of natural resources is my reason for giving it 4 stars instead of 5. The urban developers are clearly cast as the "bad guys" in this novel, so if your tweener knows family members/friends who clear land or build condos for a living, expect some hard-to-address questions to emerge. Otherwise, I highly recommend this easy-to-read, enjoyable story. My daughter and I read an earlier version when she was about 10 years old, and we both loved it, even in unedited form. ~ Vicki Garlock, Amazon.com
A Magical Environmental Story with Fabulous Characters
I’ve had the best few days of my life reading Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation. In fiction this is my favourite book this year. If I could give it 11 out of 10 I would. The story comes alive in front of you. There are fabulous characters. The tree spirits are comical. That’s probably my favourite part of the book. Emma’s quest is one that any child’s imagination would just love. It’s a wee bit like Harry Potter in that adults can enjoy it just as well as children. It’s very well written and for those who are spiritually minded you’ll see a lot of themes like the Hero’s Journey. I would hope that Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation would turn into some kind of series because the little heroine herself is a cracking wee character. It’s a lovely wee book with a lovely wee message but it’s also a huge book with a huge message that can be absorbed by children about saving our envirornment. This is a book for you and your kids to enjoy together. I’m going to keep it for my grandchildren so I can read it to them.
Colette Brown, author of Maybe the Universe Just Isn't That Into You!: Spiritual Responsibility in a Fluffy Bunny World and over 10 books.
For a full You Tube review watch
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEdfbU6u-ps&feature=share ~ Colette Brown, You Tube
A Book of Joy and Enchantment
Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation is an enchanting book and a joy to read. It will make a perfect gift book for young teens who are tasked with helping to care for a family elder who seems to be lost in the fog of a dementia. Emma's ability to find solace in the oak tree in her garden appears - at first - to be the only way she has to cope with her family's multi-generational turmoil. Little does she know that it is The Doorway into an underworld of mystery and intrigue . Her journey into this strange and fantastical place will prove to help empower her with a strength that can only be delivered to her by the Spirits of her Ancestors and the Trees. I strongly urge readers to buy this book - as well as a second and third copy to share with friends and family. It will bring happiness to anyone who are fortunate enough to read it.
Author of Symphony of Spirits: Encounters with the Spiritual Dimensions of Alzheimer's ~ Dr. Deborah Forrest, Amazon.com
"This book made me very happy and made me want to start protecting more trees. The book reminded me very much of the trees at school that I named Mr. tree and Mrs. tree. I also liked that she had woven humor into the tree's personalities. It's one of those books that even though it has sad parts it doesn't make you truly sad."
Isabela R. 11 year old ~ Isabela R.
A Magical Read for Children and Adults
Mystical, magical and adventurous certainly describes this charming and important story. Emma Oliver, a 11 year old girl, living in Peachtree City, GA, soon discovers her life purpose, through Annie Oakley, a special oak tree in her backyard – a tree who understands her problems. Annie, and the network of tree spirits, help Emma through her difficulties. This book is written for children; however, it will also be enjoyed by adults. It teaches all of us about the spiritual aspects of nature, trees and song. And, it encourages us to look deeper within our own souls to search for our true callings. Author Susan Elizabeth Hale has written a lovely fictional work, and it should be included in every child’s library! ~ Deborah Lloyd, Amazon
I really enjoyed reading this great story. It is written with children in mind but it speaks deeply to me on another level . As an artist who enjoys painting trees I believe trees have a joy that Susan Hale has captured in a beautiful and lively way. Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation is a great read and a perfect gift. ~ Sara Bennett, Facebook
A fun read with an important message
This is a playful romp of a fairytale quest, ideal for readers of 9-11 years old, that sets nature against urban development. It should encourage children to defend their natural environment and to be considerate of trees. As such, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
We get a clear picture of a lonely girl – Emma Oliver. She is new to her town, is bullied and worries she will end up like her senile grandmother. She seeks solace in her favourite tree, Annie Oakley. Any reader who had a childhood affinity for a particular tree will empathise with Emma and want her to overcome her fears and succeed in her quest.
The story is well plotted, fast paced and full of humour. I loved the eccentric old ladies in hats! The speaking animals made it reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, and the creative ideas help you to imagine a secret life of trees, invisible to us humans.
I would class it as plot-led prose rather than literary fiction – I found the -ing verbs a little repetitive – but this doesn't distract from the story at all, and there are some beautiful images. There is plenty of imagination here – I would love to see the book illustrated.
Harriet Springbett - Author of Tree Magic ~ Harriet Springbett
This is a great book. for Adults and Children. An adventure worthy of Harry Potter fame. The Author has a vivid imagination. If you love trees and nature this exciting story will encourage you to think more deeply about the trees and what the do for us. Hard to put down. ~ Gillian Cooper, Facebook
Eleven-year-old Emma doesn't know that she comes from generations of tree singers, passed from mother to daughter. She doesn't believe she can sing. Her ailing grandmother has just come to live with the family. Her father is hardly ever at home. Her mother has been acting strange. To add to Emma's troubles, her mother's great uncle from England is coming to stay. Then, a strange old woman wearing a hat full of feathers appears mysteriously in her garden. She gives Emma a white swan feather that emits a haunting melody. Emma's only solace is the oak tree in her garden, which she names Annie Oakley. What she does not yet know is that Annie is part of a network of tree spirits who disguise themselves as old women. These spirits have come to Peachtree City to help Emma remember her mission to sing the Song of Creation and save the Great Mother tree. An original, compelling, thoroughly entertaining from cover to cover, "Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation" is especially recommended for family, school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers ages 7 to 17. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation" is also available in a Kindle format ($5.38).
~ Fantasy/Sci Fi Shelf, Midwest Book Review
This is an entirely magical book, a modern Alice, about the Love of Trees, the importance of Trees, about Music, about the importance of caring for Nature, and totally in "tune" with the ethos of this time in her story and his story. I had so recently purchased a book by Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees, a book that does in very scientific and loving ways, tell us, about the vast underground network that forms the Family of Trees, a far deeper connectivity than many knew, and this communications network is vast and amazing, in so many ways. Of course Trees for us, should echo through history, as we have our Garden Story, yes, that Tree, the Tree of Life, and then, the Tree of Knowledge. Back to this book, a rollicking adventure story that throws Emma, our heroine, into a fantastical adventure that involves saving the Mother Tree, that is very much about the Music, about the value of trees, this the poetree, of Life Herself, speaking. I love the imaginative flow of this Story, how the weave is spell binding in many ways, and the joy of Nature comes ringing through. I also Love how language, how Emma's name is reverberant with the ancient Mother tree, how that song is so important, for Nature and Nurture come so beautifully together, to keep what is needed green. Maybe beyond belief, be leaf, is such a Story that does entrance. The uses of Enchantment to speak volumes about our need to hug, to honor, and realize the importance for us all, of that leafy sheltering canopy, how Earth herself depends on Trees. ~ Ruth Housman, Amazon.com
I just couldn't put this book down. I read it from cover to cover and two days later I re-read it! Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation is pure fantasy BUT upon my second reading I realised that it is based upon the factual interaction of trees with one another and their relationship with fungi and animals as described in another good book "The Hidden Life of Trees" by Peter Wohlleben, Forester and ecologist. Emma makes the whole subject clear not only to children but to adults with a non-scientific base. I feel that this story would make a superb film to reach those who do not wish to read.
~ Paul Cooper, Goodreads
EMMA OLIVER AND THE SONGOF CREATION
Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation is more than a fantasy adventure story for young people. It is a paean to the triumphant power of Nature for all ages. It is particularly a celebration of trees of all shapes and sizes and their subtle, vibrant relationship to humans. Susan Hale tells the story of the eleven year old Emma who, locked within her, has the power through song to rescue and restore the life force of the trees and thus bring about a new creation. Emma has to overcome Esmeralda, representing the force which chokes and saps the trees’ very existence. She has to accomplish what her grandmother and mother failed to do, ensnared as they were by Esmeralda’s constricting powers.
Hale achieves a completely magical scenario through personifying the trees as human characters that are able to transform themselves into colourful women who can speak. This carries over into squirrels, mice and rabbits that assist Emma in her quest. And the names given to them are humorously precious. This personification is so well done; the interplay of the humans and the trees and animals so homogenous that their distinction disappears. It is a most delightful and scintillating way of storytelling and it has all the essential ingredients of first-rate fantasy – the dialogue between humans and Nature, otherworldly places versus ordinary reality, the struggle of good against evil and magical objects with special powers.
However, this book is far more than a ripping yarn and a roller coaster ride of thrilling chapters; it is a great parable about humankind’s interrelationship with its environment. For example this is positively symbolized by how Emma treats an oak tree, called Annie Oakley, as a dearest friend whom she speaks to and hugs. This is negatively portrayed as a major theme within the book by the plan of the unnecessary cutting down of trees to make way for a grand hotel. Here Hale appeals to our conscience in the shape of Emma’s father who works for a tree-felling company. Will he, in the face of needed income, carry out the orders of the company’s owner or will he resist such destruction?
Hale has a natural gift for narrative and the flow of the writing just keeps sailing along through the chapters. The shifting among the scenes from Emma’s home to the protest meeting by the trees transformed into eccentric women, to Esmeralda’s palace, to the site of the potential tree-feeling, to the underground world of the Shining Land and the In-Between is well handled. Despite assuming that it will all end well, this tale is like a thriller, all the more so to a young reader.
What also characterizes this book is the prominence of the use of vocal sound, something that Hale has promoted in her work as a sound healer and music therapist. She effectively incorporates what might be called “mantras” or incantations and that even includes Emma's name. Some of these incantations take the form of short rhyming poems and are quite charming to recite.
What is touching and compassionate in her writing is how Esmeralda and Smiley, the tree-felling company owner, are not ultimately punished for their wrongdoing but are redeemed by the sheer loving kindness of the trees themselves.
In Emma Oliver and The Song Of Creation Hale has managed to stimulate our imagination through superb storytelling while, at the same time, awaken our conscience to the precious , yet often threatened world of trees, our brothers and sisters of Nature. We are exhorted to sing Emma’s song and join her choir.
I thoroughly enjoyed it ~ James D'Angelo, Author of the Healing Power of the Human Voice
A chapter reader fantasy that encourages children to appreciate trees and the biome they represent.Children who enjoy fantasy with animals and an element of mystery should be satisfied. Emma is a strong, caring character.
~ Marielle Kaifer, NetGalley
This magical fantasy finds it's way into your heart so easily. It's one of those books to curl up with that makes you turn the pages to see what happens next, yet you don't want the story to end. Alongside the human characters, some good, others concerned only with themselves, we have trees and animals that speak, each in their own unique voice, to weave a strong message about looking after our planet. There is humour and plenty of dramatic twists and turns. Emma's uncle Alf is a treasure who not only brings wisdom to the immediate dilemmas faced by Emma and her family, but plays an important role in encouraging and preparing his niece to take on the difficult path she is destined for. Through her greatest friend and confidante, who happens to be an oak tree called Annie, Emma learns what she must do and the challenges she will have to confront.
By Susanna Bearfoot, Composer and Music Educator ~ Susanna Bearfoot
Emma and the Song of Creation: A Review
“Who sings the songs alive in every leaf?”
Susan Hale, the author of Emma and the Song of Creation clearly does. And in her book, she invites young readers to join her.
“Who listens to the sonnets of budding blossoms?”
Emma, the protagonist of Hale's children novel, does. At least, she intuits snatches of their poetry via her lone source of comfort and only friend – a tree in her back yard.
Through various mysterious and magical experiences, Emma learns that her tree, its kith and kin, the entire natural world, and every marginalized human being are important, connected – and in grave danger. All are losing the struggle to survive the onslaught of modern civilization’s moneyed interests. Emma knows that this is wrong, but she bows to the powerful social pressures that value apathy over action. To confront the social ills head-on, Emma would need a strong heart, to find her voice, and to unleash her song. A tall order for a fearful, lonely, bullied eleven-year old from an unhappy home.
As the author, a music therapist, leads readers through Emma’s transformation from downtrodden victim to heroic activist in this engaging cautionary tale, youngsters learn how to use their voices in support of beauty, compassion, and truth.
Will the next generation heed Hale’s call for a more loving world in time to save it? While the central plot of the real-life modern drama has yet to be resolved, by the end of Hale’s masterful composition, youngsters will have the wherewithal to ensure that the human story doesn’t end. Here’s hoping they’ll join Hale’s choir.
Dr. Linda Sonna is a psychologist and the author of ten parenting books.
~ Dr. Linda Sonna
Fun and Entertaining with a Powerful Message
What eleven-year old girl knows they’re destined to save the world’s trees? Certainly not Emma Oliver, who comes from a long line of tree singers. The only thing she does know is that her best friend is a tree she calls Annie Oakley.
That is just the beginning of the fantastic voyage, author Susan Hale is taking us on. As Emma, albeit reluctantly, sets out to save the world, readers will enjoy the twists and turns of the story. What I loved was that it made me think of our trees and their importance for sustaining life on earth. How we often take them for granted and chop them down without a thought. Hale’s story reminds us of the fragility of our natural environment in a fun and adventurous way.
A great tale for young readers and adults alike who want to feel close to nature. Colorful characters, good and bad, will keep you entertained and on your toes to the last page. It certainly makes me wish there were an Emma Oliver out there to keep our trees safe.
~ Annette Oppenlander, Author of Escape From the Past series
Title - A fascinating and magical fairy tale.
Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation is a fascinating, magical fantasy aimed at the younger audience, but a story that can be enjoyed by a much wider age group, even adults like me. This modern day fairy tale is set in Peachtree city, Georgia in the USA, where the eleven-year-old heroine, Emma Oliver lives with her mother, Molly and grandmother, Maize and Emma's rather special uncle Alf from England. That is about as far as reality goes as the list of characters quickly expands into the realms of fantasy. There is an Alice in Wonderland feel to the story when Emma meets up with a diverse cast of wonderful creatures. Talking rabbits, devas or tree spirits resembling weird old ladies in strange hats riding golf carts, animated trees, saber-bearing squirrels, sinister brambles and a pretty unpleasant ivy character all come together, either to help or hinder Emma in her quest to save the Mother Tree hidden deep in a timeless underground world. Although the story is a glorious fantasy, threaded throughout the story is a strong message about climate change and the damage humans are doing to the planet.
Fantasy is not a genre I would normally gravitate to, but having received a copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review I set about reading it and was quickly drawn into the world inhabited by the extraordinary and highly original characters created by the talented author, Susan Hale. Highly recommended. ~ Veryan Williams Wynn, Author of the Spirit Trap
Finally! A juvenile fiction novel that gave me chills for all the right reasons. Susan Hale has written a modern-day fairytale for all ages of a young girl's quest to find her voice. It interweaves the best and worst of being human and the worst and best of being magical. Her characters spring to life instantly from the lonely young Emma to her fragile grandmother, Maizy, to the very entertaining trees spirits only Emma can save with the help of her uncle, Alf. Throughout, we are reminded of the significance of ancestry and redemption, the power of the voice to heal, and the importance of family -- nature being as much our family as our human counterparts. Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation awakens us to the magic all around us. You may even find yourself singing to the trees! ~ Dielle Ciesco, author of The Unknown Mother: A Magical Walk with the Goddess of Sound
Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation is a celebration to the triumphant power of Nature for all ages. This is a first-rate fantasy; a rollercoaster ride of thrilling chapters. ~ James D'Angelo, author of The Healing Power of the Human Voice
Emma Oliver and the Song of Creation takes us on a whimsical journey that delights the senses. Emma shares with us that the song of creation lies within each of us as with the earth itself. ~ Kathy Parra, author of Love is the Color of the Rainbow