The Searcher and Old Tree book cover image

The Searcher and Old Tree

  • 795

Written & Illustrated by David McPhail

The safety of home

After a long night of foraging, a tired raccoon returns home to sleep in Old Tree's branches. Oblivious to the rain and wind of a raging storm, the raccoon is protected and sheltered by the tree. Beloved author-illustrator David McPhail crafts a simple, yet powerful, allegory about the safety of home and the strength of unconditional love.

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Author & Illustrator Bios:

David McPhail, author & illustrator

David McPhail is the acclaimed author and illustrator of more than one hundred and fifty books for children. He studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and published his first book in 1972.

Read more about David.

Awards & Honors:

  • ABC Best Books for Children

Editorial Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

A little raccoon sleeps through a fierce storm in his favorite tree. The Searcher ferrets for food all night and at dawn heads back to his home in the branches of sturdy Old Tree where he comfortably settles for a day of deep sleep. While the Searcher sleeps, a coastal storm brews with blowing wind and lashing waves. As the storm builds, wind rips Old Tree's branches, bends his trunk and tries to pull out his roots. All day the storm rages, Old Tree holds fast and the Searcher sleeps on unaware. By evening, the storm retreats and the Searcher wakes up refreshed. As the Searcher climbs out of Old Tree to begin his evening forage, he's amazed to see Old Tree's broken branches and leaves lying in the wet grass. The atmospheric pen, ink and watercolor illustrations convey the storm's elemental intensity, Old Tree's gallant struggle to survive and the Searcher's total oblivion. Careful readers will discover Old Tree's anthropomorphic face protectively watching over the Searcher in this allegorical tribute to the importance of having a safe place.

School Library Journal, starred review

After a successful night of foraging, a raccoon called Searcher heads home to a tree that sits on the edge of a large body of water. As dawn approaches, he snuggles down into the branches and falls asleep. A storm comes up, thunder and lightning crash about, and giant waves pound the shore. The raccoon does not wake up. As the storm becomes more and more intense, Old Tree looks less and less significant against the rolling sky and huge, pounding waves. It bends and twists, but the raccoon sleeps on. As evening approaches, the storm ebbs and things calm down. Searcher awakens and is surprised by the wet grass and scattered debris. But the old tree is still standing, and as the animal head out for another night of foraging, the two wave to one another. The economical text has a soothing cadence. McPhail's textured pen, ink and watercolor illustrations depict an endearing, contented raccoon and an anthropomorphized tree framed by white backgrounds. The raging storm at its peak is shown to good effect on two full spreads. In this book, home is clearly the best pace to be during a storm, and this brief tale may offer comfort to children.


Searcher, a pudgy raccoon, spends his nights foraging for food and then returns, sated, to sleep in the safe and welcoming branches of Old Tree. One morning a fierce thunderstorm rolls in--with wind, rain, and waves that threaten to rip Old Tree from its seaside mooring. The tree holds fast, though, and Searcher slumbers undisturbed through the tempest. McPhail's signature pen-and-ink watercolor illustrations portray a blithe Searcher, who is truly puzzled by the storm debris he sees when he awakes. Young listeners will appreciate the contrast between the ferocious gale (depicted in purples, blacks, yellows, and blues) and Searcher's comfy perch in the tree, where he quietly repositions himself on each spread. This gentle tale is well suited to preschool story hours; children will note the tree's changing facial expressions as they listen to the words.


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ISBN: 978-1-58089-224-7

ISBN: 978-1-60734-119-2 PDF
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Ages: 3-7
Page count: 32
8 x 10

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