The Oak Inside the Acorn, written by Max Lucado and illustrated by George Angelini, tells the touching coming-of-age story of an acorn as it falls from its mother’s branches and grows into a great, strong oak. The acorn’s journey is an adventure story that captivates readers. The acorn is eventually planted in a farmer’s backyard, where it is able to grow into a big Oak. The farmer’s daughter grows up alongside the Oak tree; there are many parallels in their introspective coming-of-age stories. Namely, they both highlight the importance of being true to yourself and being the individual you were meant to be. I think this book is appropriate starting in mid-to-upper elementary grades. I don’t think any of the content is inappropriate for younger grades, but the themes are a bit more complex. I think that parents will really enjoy this story, all though some might find parts a bit cheesy.
To be honest, the reason that I originally bought The Oak Inside the Acorn was because of the illustrations. They are beautiful oil paintings full of Earthy-tones. The lack of precise detail on the human characters’ faces help support the plant characters’ personification and personalities. The illustrations help communicate the growth and changes that occur over the course of the book. Not only are there clear indications of growth and change – like the acorn growing into a large oak tree – but also more subtle, detailed indications like the puppy growing into a dog.
While The Oak Inside the Acorn has Christian elements, I think the message is beneficial for children from all faith backgrounds or lack thereof. If read in public schools, teachers may choose to read “the oak I was meant to be” instead of “the oak God made me to be.” This book beautifully explores individuality, strength, independence, purpose, and fear of change and growing up.