The trees are alive! || My favorite trees in fiction.

The Trees are Alive Illustration || Treebeard, Groot, Pickett, and Uprooted || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

When it comes to my stories posts, I’ve decided reviews and recommendations are not enough. I also want to talk a little more in general about the overarching things that pull me in, 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 commented 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 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):

Treebeard

When Trees Attack || Treebeard from Lord of the Rings || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrativeThe 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 things. (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.

Groot

When Trees Attack || Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrativeI’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!)

Pickett

When Trees Attack || Pickett from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrativeOkay, 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, 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…)

Honorable Mentions

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 kidnap people and attack people and just 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 it 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. </3

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! And then go out later and hug a tree. They deserve some extra love. 😉

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10 Comments

  1. How did I not realize there were such awesome trees in fiction before this post?!?! I LOVE the Ents and Groot is fabulous, of course ❤

  2. Wow, you are so clever, Asti. I never thought of this connection between some of my favorite characters before. I really love the Ents because of their wisdom, their serenity, and their badassery. Still haven’t picked up A Monster Calls yet, but I want to check out the monster in it. Obviously, I will get back to you on that Uprooted reference because I am going to read that book and finish it. Dang it. Definitely looking forward to read more on your blog, smarty pants.

    • Haha, I’m not sure I’ve ever considered myself clever for a blog post but I’ll take it! It’s nice to pull together common themes in the fiction you consume like this so you know what to look for in the future.

      Yes, the Ents were all of those things. They were also sooooooo slow which was fun for the torture it gave the hobbits in the movie.

      I do hope you read A Monster Calls and Uprooted soon, but no worries if not! A Monster Calls is nice because it’s a very, very quick read (but still packs such an emotional punch). It’ll be good for a day when you want something that’s not overwhelming size-wise to read but prepared for some possible tears.

  3. OMG. This is genius! I never really thought about trees in books, but now that you mention it you are so right. The Whomping Willow was hilarious, the Giving Tree made me cry every single time I read it when I was younger, and the tree in A Monster Calls was so powerful. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post! ❤

    • Haha thanks Zoe! I’m glad to shine a spotlight on fictional trees since they’re so easy to overlook – now let’s just hope we can find more! 🖤

  4. Real talk, though: the Giving Tree was the first fictional character I full-out sobbed over. I loved that tree & hated that boy so much. And honestly, Asti, it is so like you to take this weird & ridiculous post idea & turn it into something lovely. I must read A Monster Calls now — it’s been languishing on my shelf for far too long, but how could I resist it when I know a loveable tree-monster-thing is ahead? 😉

    • Oh, I totally get the Giving Tree heartbreak. I mean, even now I’m scared to pick that book up again out of fear it’ll just make me depressed. It’s a powerful book but I’m almost surprised it got published as a kid’s book because ouch. 💔

      And yes, I do hope you finally pick up A Monster Calls, I would think you’d love it! Though real talk here: it’s almost as emotionally-exhausting as The Giving Tree so pick it up only when you’re ready. 🖤

  5. I love this! I’m also a huge fan of living trees. Treebeard has long been one of my favorite characters, and there are few things cuter than Groot. (Baby Groot being one of them.) I actually was very underwhelmed by the first movie, except for Groot, but when I rewatched it earlier this year, I really enjoyed it! I thought the sequel was even better.
    I can’t think of any other living trees, but we *must* be missing some, right?
    Great drawings, too!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who was underwhelmed by the first movie. I did watch it while on the plane during one of my visits to/from London, so that probably didn’t help. Maybe I should give it another go before I see the sequel (because I have to watch it sometime for Baby Groot).

      I’m sure I’m definitely missing some trees, but these are the only ones I could think of! There does seem to be a Ranker list which include others: http://www.ranker.com/list/best-trees/amylindorff. I actually don’t remember Old Man Willow at all so maybe I should reread LotR (I’ve been meaning to anyways, probably not until I’m back in London though). I like that he sounds a bit more evil, more along the lines of the trees from Uprooted. Oh and the Grandmother tree from Pocahontas. Another one I’ve forgotten because it’s been so long!

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