The Promise

by Nicola Davies

Hardcover, ?







On a mean street in a mean, broken city, a young girl tries to snatch an old woman's bag. But the frail old woman, holding on with the strength of heroes, says the thief can't have it without giving something in return: the promise. It is the beginning of a journey that will change the thieving girl's life--and a chance to change the world, for good.

User reviews

LibraryThing member nbmars
This is a somewhat improbable story about a young girl who lived in a city that was mean and hard and ugly, and she supported herself by stealing.

One day she cornered an old lady with a heavy bag. The lady wouldn’t relinquish the bag until the girl promised to plant what was in the bag. She said what she had to in order to get the bag and ran off with it. When she opened it, she found it contained only acorns:

"I stared at them,
so green, so perfect,
and so many,
and I understood
the promise
I had made.
I held a forest in my arms,
and my heart was changed.”

The girl plants them everywhere, and they begin to grow:

"I pushed aside the mean and hard and ugly,
and I planted, planted, planted.”

Pretty soon the city was filled with little trees that enchanted people, and they began to plant trees and flowers and vegetables everywhere:

"Green spread through the city like a song,
breathing to the sky, drawing down the rain like a blessing.”

She travels to other cities and does the same thing, until one night, she too is fought by a thief for her bag of acorns, and she smiled and made the bargain, knowing it would change a heart.

Discussion: There is a lot that doesn’t quite make sense in this story. For example, big oaks do not spring up overnight from little acorns. Nor can trees and flowers, as nice as they are, necessarily change hearts. A small child might not even buy this story if presented as a fable or parable. But the illustrations by Laura Carlin are definitely notable. Using watercolor, pastel, and crayon, she shows how the world is transformed from drab and lifeless to vibrant glorious color.

Evaluation: The author has stated that she wanted to show kids who have had bad starts in life that change is possible, for both yourself and the world around you. It’s a nice story, although I’m not sure if it realistically conveys the author’s message, but the artwork is lovely and unique, and is sure to garner prizes.
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LibraryThing member troberts719
A girl growing up in a mean, ugly city discoverers a beautiful secret and brings renewal to her community.
LibraryThing member debnance
The Promise by Nicola Davies features trees, this time in the role of agents of redemption. A young girl in a gray and desperate city steals the purse of an old woman. The old woman gives up her purse after making the girl promise to "plant them all." The girl discovers that inside the purse are lots of acorns, and something inside her changes. The girl begins to plant the acorns all over the gray and desperate city and the city changes. As the city changes, the people in the city change. A beautiful little story of the power of nature to heal.… (more)
LibraryThing member troberts719
A girl growing up in a mean, ugly city discoverers a beautiful secret and brings renewal to her community.
LibraryThing member Jadedog13
In this book, a young girl living in a dark, hard angry city, tries to steal an old woman's bag. The woman holds on with "the strength of heroes". The old woman agrees to let go if the young girl "promises to plant them". When the girl opens the bag, instead of money or food, she finds acorns. Then she goes around planting them and bringing light and hope to people in dark places.

This is a beautiful story meant to be read to elementary school students. Hopefully, it encourages them to pay it forward and try to bring light into the lives of others. The illustrations are gorgeous and they change as the story goes on.

Recommended to:
Great choice for a read-aloud to elementary students as a way to teach that hope brings hope and bringing hope to others is always a good thing.
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LibraryThing member Sullywriter
An obvious but inspiring allegorical tale.

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