1 out of 5
It seems unfair to judge a book for a poor translation (or if this was ESL-written by the author; Sallybooks has had a bad habit of not listing any credits besides the main creator – such as an editor – on any of their English language books), but when that translation so severely impacts the readability of the title, well, then unfortunately: yes, it’s fair to judge. You’re presenting it in my native language, and so ideally it can be successfully read in that format. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with The Tree That Grew On My Wall. And what’s perhaps, initially, a slightly amusing lack of contractions and an odd use of descriptive language quickly becomes incredibly confused dialogue with no clear point or focus.
I’m even more apt to criticize that, as the same lack of focus carries over to the story: when the writing became problematic, I attempted to read the book as though the words were a foreign language, and to intuit the story from the images. Yes: the plant / tree endlessly growing out of Mike’s bedroom wall is a visual metaphor for his arguing parents, and his inability to feel any control in the situation. A plantshop owner who gives him a pair of shears has some puzzling ways of explaining the relevance of those shears, but something something accepting change and balance. That’s all fine and good, except artist / writer Lourdes Navarro doesn’t properly set a reality / fantasy barrier into her story, and things beyond the growing tree occur that don’t feel like they have a contextual place in the tale. The same goes for a page-filling aside concerning bullies at school and a girl Mike likes.
And so I’d fall back on just the visuals, which are normally strong in Sallybooks, but all of Navarro’s figures and settings have the same flat, bubbly texture, which makes discerning what, exactly, is interacting with what, and how, difficult… combined with a very obtuse sense of focus when she has more than just Mike in the panel.
Not an enjoyable reading experience.