The Short Tree and The Bird That Could Not Sing

Cover of The Short Tree and The Bird that Could Not SingI was working as Writer-in-Residence at Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre. My daughter, Rebecca, 5, was back in Vancouver, and I missed her terribly. I wrote her frequently, and one of my letters contained the seed of the story about a very small tree who makes friends with a rather eccentric, tone-deaf bird.

It’s a story about going away and coming back again, and was one of the first that I had written in a very long time that was purely whimsical fantasy. For a long time I delighted in the fact that I’d managed to write something that wasn’t about anything. Until a child psychologist congratulated me on having created the best piece for children on separation anxiety he’d ever read. So much for whimsy.