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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Fantastic Beasts, boys, and magic… it doesn’t take much to win me over. 

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Fantastic Beasts, boys, and magic… It doesn’t take much to win me over.

Newt Scamander from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Illustration Reference: Photograph by Annie Leibovitz from the Dec 2016 ed of Vogue (p 248)

Hey, remember that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie? I somewhat do. I mean, I really enjoyed it when I saw it in theaters and drew the image above thinking it’d be nice to talk about on the blog. But then I waited a couple of months to actually write the content of the post and forgot what I wanted to say and had to borrow the DVD from the library to refresh my mind.

I don’t know what that says about how good this film actually is, but hey, it doesn’t take much to please me as you’ll soon find out.

Fantastic Beasts

As this blog was originally titled atypicalmonster, I think it’s fair to say that I love monsters, beasts, and creatures of any kind. Anything fantastical that we don’t get in this world (or don’t have confirmation of), I love, love, love. This film sold me prior to seeing it because it had Fantastic Beasts in the title, and I’m happy to report that there were a few new creatures introduced in the film that we didn’t get to experience in the Harry Potter world before.

I think the Niffler, the long-snouted creature attracted to shiny things, is the favorite of most viewers of this film, but I actually loved Pickett the most. Pickett is a Bowtruckle (or green little plant dude) that Newt carries around with him and I couldn’t help but fall for his sweet and sensitive demeanor. There’s a scene in which it looks like something might happen to him and ah, my heart. I want a little Bowtruckle to carry around in my pocket.

And let’s not forget the Erumpent, the rhinoceros looking beast. I don’t know much about it other than it was horny in this particular film, but I have to wonder if I’m part-Erumpent because that mating dance Newt performed for it won me over too. (Haha.)

Seriously though, fantastic beasts for the win. If nothing else I’ll watch all the sequels in hopes for more creatures being introduced.

Fantastic Boys

Yes, I’m really getting that shallow here. The inclusion of fantastic beasts wasn’t the only thing that sold me on this film before I saw it… Eddie Redmayne did too. 

I don’t know what it is but I LOVE Eddie Redmayne. I think the first film I saw of his was The Theory of Everything and even with him drooling and stumbling and all those things I couldn’t help but fall in love. Those cheekbones! That goofy demeanor! That smile! I AM NOT WORTHY!

But, I was actually surprised because as I watched the film I found myself captivated by another fantastic boy: Ezra Miller, the actor who played Credence. Not only did I think he did an amazing job playing Credence (because he really did, I was totally intrigued by the character), but he also has great cheekbones.

And then there was another actor who I used to be obsessed with who also had great cheekbones. I mean, just all the boys and all the cheekbones. That’s all this pathetic heart needs.

Oh, and the Wizarding World

Oh, and let’s not forget that this film is connected to the Harry Potter films and therefore has MAGIC! (Anyone who claims to not love magic is a liar and should be shunned. It automatically makes every story better.) The nice thing about Fantastic Beasts is that we get a lot of magic we’re used to from the Harry Potter films, but also get a little glimpse of how the magic world varies in different parts of the world. There’s different slang, government systems, rules. It’s all the same but not quite and while I know it wasn’t enough for some diehard fans, it was enough for this casual bum.

Brb, hiding in Newt Scamander's magical suitcase || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Yes, if I were in this magical wizarding world, I would definitely be the one sneaking into Newt Scamander’s suitcase. Fantastic beasts, boys, and magic for the win.

So there you have it! Those are my thoughts on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. As you can see, the story itself isn’t that remarkable. It’s actually a bit messy as it tries to focus both on the Obscurus situation along with Newt’s runaway beasts. And while some of the relationships formed in the story were quite lovely (Queenie and Jacob being by far the best), I can’t say I’ll be overly distraught if they aren’t carried over into the sequels. No, the film was great for me purely for what I knew was coming thanks to the trailers: beasts, boys, and magic. If that makes me a bad film person, I apologize. But hey, everything is a bit more enjoyable when you take it less seriously.

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Have you seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? If so, what were your thoughts? Were you sold prior to seeing it like I was? Or did you have high expectations that weren’t quite met? And for those who haven’t seen it, do you think you ever will?