Guest Post: Our Friend, the Oak Tree by Giulietta M. Spudich

Clarissa
by Giulietta M. Spudich   (Author)
Middlegrade Fantasy / Chapter Book, Loss
ages 9-12
145 Pages


Our Friend, the Oak Tree
by Giulietta M. Spudich

Trees have long been friends to humans, removing carbon from the air and giving us oxygen through photosynthesis, giving us shade on hot days, delighting us with maple syrup, giving us medicine from bark and berry. I wanted a tree to be a friend to the little girl in my newest book, Clarissa. What better friend than the wise oak, considered by some to be the king of trees.

I’m not the first to put the oak tree center stage. Its strong wood has long been used to build shelter and furniture. From the time of early civilizations, its acorns have been ground into flour. A tea from oak bark is drunk to relieve digestive problems. 

And the tree is old, impressively old. Oak trees have been on the earth since the end of the Tertiary period – about 2.6 million years ago. They commonly live hundreds of years, if left undisturbed. The Bowthorpe Oak in England is around 1,000 years old, and can room 20 people in the hollow of its trunk. 

Druids see the Green Man and dryads, tree spirits, in oak trees. Magic mistletoe grows in its branches. 

Like many trees, there is more than meets the eye to an oak. Nutrients are spread to other oak trees through their roots, and they communicate with each other in the same way, through mycorrhizal fungal links. One oak can warn other oaks of an attacking parasite, and the other oaks will secrete more tannins in their bark as a form of defense.

And who here hasn’t been enchanted by a tree? Artist Stephen Taylor painted a single oak tree fifty times over three years. Author James Canton spent two years visiting an 800 year old oak, leading to a wonderful book, The Oak Papers.

Trees have made the news a lot lately. Deforestation is a huge threat to the world. Oak trees older than any human on earth are chopped down without a second thought. Let’s remember what they’ve given us. Let’s remember the magic of having a tree friend. Let’s find our local oak tree and observe it for awhile, sit with our backs against the strong trunk. And yes, I’m saying it, let’s go hug an oak tree and thank it for all it has given the world.


A fire is coming. It starts with a girl and a key. – Clarissa by @spudichpen

Clarissa is a special young girl. When her mother dies giving birth to Clarissa’s little brother, her dad changes and withdraws, leaving her feeling alone in the world. She is befriended by the old oak tree in her front yard, and the finds solace in long talks with the tree. The tree gives her the gift of an ancient key that leads her to a captive fire spirit and adventure

The author has done such a wonderful job of making Clarissa’s challenges just a preamble to the real story of young girl who is able to find good in all places and is brave enough to stand for what she knows is right, despite how difficult it gets for her.

Boys and girls ages 8 -15 will have no trouble seeing a bit of themselves in this character and take away a bit of inspiration.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


A fire is coming. It starts with a girl and a key.

After her mother’s death, Clarissa doesn’t know how to connect with her distant father. Her only friend is an oak tree who she can tell her deepest secrets. When she discovers a mysterious key that unleashes a long-forgotten fire spirit, she must find her voice to protect those she loves.

“A delightful, fantastical tale of how oak trees and humans can be friends.” -Dr. James Canton, author of “The Oak Papers”

Goodreads * Amazon


Giulietta M. Spudich enjoys writing everything from children’s stories to grown-up fiction and poems in between. She lives in Cambridge, England where she moved from California in 2002. She is inspired by cats, especially her late black cat, Smokey.Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads

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