Up To Something by Katrina McKelveyIsla's Famly Tree

Release Date: April 2020

Illustrated by: Prue Pittock
Published by: EK Books

Isla isn’t happy that her family is changing, so her mother creates a clever family tree with Isla to teach her how families always grow. When her mother hands her two new leaves, Isla doesn’t think they belong. She tries to make them fit somewhere, but not on her branch. However, once she meets her new brothers, she has a change of heart and finds room for them after all. A fun book for any family trying to introduce new family members, or show children how they belong in their family.

List to this episode of 'Chats with fabulous childrens authors and illustrators - Katrina McKelvey' where Karen Eastwood interviews me about Isla’s Family Tree.

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This is a sweet story for young readers apprehensive about new changes in their families. I appreciated the whimsical illustrations and effortless inclusion of diversity and inclusive families. A lovely book! ∼ Jennifer L. Miller, PHD - Raise Them Righteous Blog

I think this is a great activity for introducing family structures and networks. With so many different types this book shows not only how a sibling bond can form but also the diversity we have in the current society. I would love to see an activity follow-up where children create their own tree - the way it is done in this book would mean that blood relatives are not necessary because blood only means you're related and not that your family so the way a child can interpret their family is therefore open.

A great book for the classroom or home library. ∼ Miss Jenny’s Classroom blog

The prospect of a new baby entering an already tight-knit family is very common and can be very confronting to a child who is used to being the only one so this approach to explaining the upcoming event is one that will appeal to many parents. Promoting it with your parent community would be a great way to promote the school library’s relationship with that community.  

However it would also have a valuable place in the early childhood classroom as children investigate their families and their structure.  Not all of Isla’s family have the traditional formation of mother, father and children so there is scope for each child to make their own tree and show and share that families can have all sorts of shapes, just as trees and their leaves do, perhaps bringing comfort to those who might see themselves as being different.  

Investigating their own origins is always a surefire winner with young children because it deeply connects to their own lives and there are as many branches to explore as there are in the family tree. The concepts of birthdays, naming, physical appearance and genetics, development and maturation, vocabulary building… the list is almost endless with lots of other stories that can be shared as well. 

It also helps children understand that their trepidation when faced with the same sort of news and change is normal, that sometimes we have to change a little ourselves so we can adapt to that change but that’s what people do and it can help us grow too.

Another example of how what appears to be a simple picture book for young readers can open up a world of possibilities.  ∼The Bottom Shelf blog

McKelvey has written a book that sensitively explores family, belonging and change with such heart and warmth. This story links family trees to the addition of new babies entering a family and where they belong within a family. 

I particularly like the dialogue which allows the story to speak simply and clearly to a child. Katrina’s use of questioning allows the child protagonist to think and discover for herself not only her place within her family but her new baby brothers, too. This is supported beautifully with thought bubbles. Isla draws upon her own memories and feelings during the story. I can see this book being a springboard for children drawing or making their own family trees.  

I love the simplicity of the illustrations and the clever use of white space as the background for each spread. The use of simple line work and patterns allows the visual story to add multiple layers of meaning to the text. The family trees show how they are all linked. This visually speaks volumes to a child. The limited colour palette allows the characters and their activities to shine without cluttering the story.

This is a story that will be enjoyed by children 3-8 years from all sorts of diverse families. It will be well received by families and schools. It is a good fit within the school curriculum and will be a great resource for teachers, too. ∼ Karen Hendriks  - Buzz Words

Isla’s Family Tree is a lovely book to show kids how a family grows and that there is always room for one or two more on branches as they can grow, just like a tree. While this story is about a family growing due to the birth of a new baby, it can be shared with children of any family that is growing.

Along with a powerful message about growing, there is also the space for creating your own family tree. This would be a wonderful activity to do with kids to show them how their family is growing and changing over time.

A lovely book that would be a wonderful baby shower gift for an older child who is feeling left out so they can help prepare for the new addition to their family. ∼ Read For Fun blog

Isla’s Family Tree by Katrina McKelvey is another great Aussie picture book focusing on the arrival of new family members - twins! Gorgeous sentiments. Gorgeous illustrations. ∼ Paul MacDonald’s Book Trail No. 56

This first sentence is really well written and will capture kids’ attention, especially as it accompanies an illustration of a young girl and her pregnant mum. Many kids have contemplated this event and for many it has been a reality: the day another person joins your family.  While for some children a sibling has been hoped for and asked for, other children are resistant to change, and the impending arrival of a new sibling opens up a can of fear-worms.  

There are plenty of children’s books on the market that might help address the issues which may arise when a baby joins a family. I really think ‘Isla’s Family Tree’ will help many families navigate the worries, anger, and negativity an older sibling might express towards a new younger sibling. The simple, yet effective, use of imagery of families as trees which grow and change over time is easy enough for very young children to grasp.  

I really enjoyed the childlike black, white, orange and pink illustrations as I felt they were the perfect complement to the text and story. The book is all about how a child feels and how she perceives the arrival of a baby to the family, so the fact that the illustrations feel like a (very sophisticated and design-savvy) 9-year-old might have drawn them was an excellent choice.   ∼ Cherie Bell - Reading Time (CBCA) blog

This book takes a fun hands-on approach to a perennial topic – introducing an older sibling to a new brother or sister, or in this case, twin brothers.

The illustrations are cute and have a cartoon-like quality with lots of negative space that highlights the most important parts of the story. Isla’s family is also refreshingly diverse. One branch has two moms, and one has an adopted child, though neither of these things are explicitly stated. They are just naturally integrated into the stories Isla remembers and the illustrations in the book.

This one is also kid approved. My 4-year-old especially liked it and asked to read it over and over again. ∼ Rachel Funez Writes blog

This is gorgeous! Isla reminds me of the characters from ‘Little Princess’, feisty, determined, smart and funny and she’s not happy about having to accommodate two new babies. Her mother’s lap has no room and neither does their branch on the family tree. Dear Isla comes up with some alternative arrangements but of course once the twins come home she understands that families, like trees, can grow and change. Cleverly done. ∼ Jackie Hosking - Pass It On

Books by Katrina McKelvey

Books by Katrina McKelvey