Bunny & Tree (Hardcover)

Bunny & Tree By Balint Zsako (Created by) Cover Image

Bunny & Tree (Hardcover)

By Balint Zsako (Created by)


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A gorgeous wordless adventure story about a rabbit and a tree, their surprising friendship, and the distance they go to find a place to call home.


A Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of 2023! ★ A New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2023 ★ A New York Public Library Best Children’s Book of 2023A Publishers Weekly Flying Start  A Marginalian Favorite Book of 2023  A Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 2023 Blue Ribbon ★ A 100 Scope Notes Most Astonishingly Unconventional Children’s Book of 2023 ★ A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of 2024

"Finishing the last page of Bunny & Tree is like waking from a dream—one you did not want to end. Filled with surreal adventure and magical thinking, Zsako has created a secret world unlike any other." —Lane Smith, Kate Greenaway medalist and Caldecott honoree

A book to treasure… Bunny & Tree will reward little children for its story, adults for its art, and everyone for its buoyant spirit.“ —Paul Zelinsky, Caldecott medalist 


Bunny and Tree first meet when the tree observes a ferocious wolf threatening the bunny and comes to its protection. From that moment on, there is a bond of trust between the two, which flowers not only into friendship, but amazingly, into a road trip adventure, when Bunny, who's looking for his rabbit friends, convinces Tree that it's time to uproot and see the world. Compelled by sympathy and a shared purpose, Bunny and Tree hit the road, becoming another tremendous and memorable picture book odd couple. Depicted in bright colors in a world of lavish skies and so much to see, Bunny and Tree share in wonder, adventure, misadventure, solidarity, and a sense of homecoming.




Balint Zsako was born in Budapest, Hungary to a textile artist mother and a sculptor father. His family immigrated to Canada when he was ten years old. At university, he studied photography, but for the last 20 years, he has been exhibiting paintings and collages. Take This Waltz, a film by Sarah Polley, features his drawings, and his illustrations have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s and The New York Times Magazine. Bunny & Tree is his first picture book. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Product Details ISBN: 9781592703937
ISBN-10: 1592703933
Publisher: Enchanted Lion
Publication Date: July 18th, 2023
Pages: 184
Language: English


Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of 2023!
"An enchanting wordless tale of friendship… Unfurling across 11 short sections, Balint Zsako's elegant, richly colored story-pictures are full of gratifying surprises for readers ages 7 and older... [Bunny and Tree] embark on a long-distance odyssey that ought to be impossible but, in this glorious and uplifting adventure, makes perfect practical and emotional sense."

— Wall Street Journal

New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2023!
"Zsako’s color-saturated tale — told in nine wordless acts, plus a prologue and an epilogue, over 184 pages — is epic in scope, yet grounded in real, intimate emotion. His vivid, changing watercolor skyscapes capture not only the passage of time, but also the emotional state of his titular characters, who together demonstrate growth, courage, sacrifice and the true meaning of family and community."

— Christopher Lassen

Balint Zsako is a Publishers Weekly Spring 2023 Flying Start!
"Bunny & Tree (Enchanted Lion) is a wordless hand-painted picture book nearly 200 pages long that overflows with conceptual fireworks and deep emotion... The idea to tell a story in paintings grew out of nightly sessions with his young son Gus as he read him classic picture books. 'Even the most sophisticated books depend on language,' he says. 'Out of curiosity, I asked myself: Can I be as sophisticated telling stories with pictures only?’ ... Now Zsako is waiting to see how children respond to Bunny & Tree. 'I’m super curious,' he says. 'It’s such a puzzle. Kids have the capacity and even a hunger for the unusual and unexpected...' As an artist, he’s gratified by another benefit offered by the picture book. 'To make something that somebody can look at, at their own speed, in a place that’s safe to them—there’s something really appealing about that.'"

— Publishers Weekly, Flying Start

Marginalian Favorite Book of 2023!
"In every true friendship, each is the other’s savior, over and over. That is what Hungarian artist Balint Zsako explores with great subtlety and sweetness in Bunny & Tree—a strange and wondrous wordless picture book about a bunny saved from the archetypal hungry wolf by an unlikely savior—a sentient tree—and the unlikely friendship that blooms between them… Against Zsako’s exquisite watercolor skyscapes, … the story ends with a lovely wordless meditation on friendship, community, and the unstoppable ongoingness of life. A tender wordless parable of friendship and the improbable saviors that make life livable."

— Maria Popova

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 2023 Blue Ribbon!
“Organized into nine acts, this extended wordless picture book conveys the story of titular characters Bunny and Tree as the two embark on an epic journey across railroads, seas, and mountain peaks; Zsako's stunning, vibrant illustrations also feature speech bubbles containing visually symbolic messages to convey the friends' conversations in this philosophical tale.”

— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

100 Scope Notes Most Astonishingly Unconventional Children’s Book of 2023!
“None other than unconventional books authority Lane Smith calls Bunny & Tree ‘surreal,’ and I couldn’t agree more. A wordless friendship between flora and fauna that unexpectedly becomes… a road trip story? Each page turn reveals surprising twists and turns in this fever dream of a book.”

— Travis Jonker

A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of 2024! 
“Hand-painted scenes tell the heartwarming, wordless story of a rabbit separated from its friends, and the shape-shifting tree that becomes a loyal companion.”
— Children's Book Committee


"Zsako, an accomplished painter and collagist, turns every page into a stand-alone canvas; the brilliant gouache skies constantly change color, to communicate the passage of time or the flickering of a mood… What started as a magnificent riff on Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree begins to evoke William Steig’s masterpiece of reciprocal altruism, Amos & Boris… Bunny & Tree is a wordless milestone, for its sheer length—it’s a grandly capacious, generous book about grand and capacious generosity."
— Jessica Winter

“Presented in 11 short sections, Balint Zsako’s elegant and stylized pictures tell a sweet, fantastical story of lost and found… Bunny & Tree is an endearing and uplifting adventure, with emotional delicacy and artwork that brims with humor and possibility. It would be a lovely book to take to a shaded hammock on a sunny afternoon.”
— Wall Street Journal

★ "Imaginative power and constant movement make this wordless debut picture book from artist Zsako a visual tour de force... Atmospheric backdrops create the sense of passing time as the journey hurtles onward. The page-turning tale mixes classic storytelling tropes—the ability to transform, a quest for lost loved ones, trees’ majesty—into a fanciful exploration of a world in which love leads to growth, and growth, in turn, to deeper love."
— Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

★ "The feel of this narrative is classic, but the presentation makes it new, wondrous even, as it is entirely wordless. Color-soaked, full-page illustrations comprise the entire book, filling it with watercoloresque skies, dramatic silhouettes, and boundless imagination. It subtly tips its hat to Harold and the Purple Crayon and The Runaway Bunny in the ways the duo creatively surmounts obstacles, typically by Tree taking on different shapes suggested by Bunny: a sailboat when met with water, an airplane when confronted with mountains. Zsako also folds in visual cues that speak to nature’s life cycles, season changes, and symbiosis. Beyond that, the heartwarming friendship between Bunny and Tree is never once in doubt, and it will effortlessly gather readers into its embrace."

★ "This exquisite wordless book in nine acts visually conveys the story of a friendship between the titular characters Bunny and Tree... Sweeping full-bleed illustrations rely on color to guide the tenor of this tale, with consistent landscape scenes that have the fluid pigment layering of watercolor and the bold saturation of gouache. Zsako brilliantly utilizes speech bubbles containing visually symbolic messages to relay the conversations between Bunny and Tree. The denouement of an emotionally charged climax provides comfort and includes a surprising moment of humor relating to bunny droppings that still suits the story’s philosophical tone. Readers with a romantic worldview and keen attentiveness to visual information will find deep solace in this picture book."
— The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, RECOMMENDED WITH SPECIAL DISTINCTION

"Cooperation, regeneration, and reunification conveyed wordlessly in nine acts... Zsako’s depictions of skies and weather are particularly mesmerizing... Zsako avoids anthropomorphism, communicating emotions through body language, not physiognomy. This handsomely bound, rich volume... will intrigue both kids and grown-ups. A lush tale that’s worthy of repeat perusals."
— Kirkus Reviews

“When a little white bunny befriends a stately tree, the two set off on a wild adventure to find other bunnies in the world in this dreamy wordless work of storytelling… The watercolors are completely lovely and dreamy and I suspect you could have some interesting conversations with a kid about what precisely is happening in one scene or another (are those the same bunnies at the end as those at the beginning of the story?). Very cool.”
— Betsy Bird

One of Hyperallergic's Seven Art Books to Start the New Year: "Moving... So tender and beautiful, this book will teach your little ones—and remind you—of the many rewards of just being a good, kind person."

— Hakim Bishara

“Balint Zsako, the Los Angeles-based Canadian artist, began his children’s book four years ago by setting a problem for himself. He had been reading storybooks to his three-year-old son and noticed how much they relied on written language to convey the narrative and how closely tied were the pictures to the words. ‘As a challenge, I was curious to see if you could get the same nuance and subtlety in the narrative relationships without using words.’ The result of his problem-solving is Bunny & Tree, a 184-page story in which the eponymous characters establish a life-saving and generative closeness. The story also involves a brief introduction of a wolf and, more prominently, a family of eight additional rabbits. Except for a few punctuation marks and some thought-balloons with pictographs, Zsako never strays from his wordless plan. This result ends up being worth thousands of words.”
— Border Crossings


"Who says a picture book can’t go for 180 pages? A child who can sit through an animated movie will be equally captured by this novel-length series of wordless narrative images. Bunny & Tree seems to be written in sentences made of pictures, as short as a few spreads, or in long, extended riffs. With gorgeous washes of gouache for the landscapes (elegant as Steinberg watercolors), obsessive scribbly drawing for the characters inhabiting them (reminiscent of Hockney), and an exquisite quality of production—the printing and the paper—it feels like a book to treasure. My 4-year-old grandson was captivated by the rabbit’s heroic quest to find its lost rabbit companions with the help of a staggeringly imaginative tree. His verdict: ‘Read it again!’ Bunny & Tree will reward little children for its story, adults for its art, and everyone for its buoyant spirit."
— Paul Zelinsky

"Finishing the last page of Bunny & Tree is like waking from a dream—one you did not want to end. Filled with surreal adventure and magical thinking, Zsako has created a secret world unlike any other, and like all Enchanted Lion books the production is top-notch, produced with attention to every detail."
— Lane Smith

"This is a masterpiece of a book, rich with imagination and the most stunning artwork. I ooh-ed and ahh-ed with each page turn and was surprised and delighted along each step of Bunny and Tree's journey. I have followed Balint’s work for years because of its beauty and complex conceptual imagery, which shines in this book too. It's a story of friendship, kindness, generosity, regrowth and courage, a truly heartwarming tale we all could benefit from right now."
— Julia Rothman

"This is an incredibly moving and magical book. I loved it."
— Sheila Heti

"An epic folktale told with the quiet beauty of an illuminated manuscript. Balint Zsako is a visual poet."
— Nicholas Blechman

"I've had the enjoyable experience of reviewing Bunny & Tree with my six-year-old sitting alongside me. We turned page after page as if rolling out a long scrolling allegorical landscape—me falling in love with Balint's beautifully detailed yet charmingly simple paintings and my son excited to see what would happen to Bunny and to his friend and protector the tree (no spoilers here). There are so many surprising lessons in the book about the color and joy of nature, about the act of caring for each other; lovely messages about life, seasons, brotherhood, and protecting each other and the selfless act of giving. Lessons we should all carry with us through our lives, yet sometimes we lose sight of them as we age. The remarkable thing is, the book is pictures alone—there are no words. Yet I never had to explain any part of the book—Balint's method of painting using open landscapes of washes and brushstrokes provides space for the reader to sit with the images and absorb and understand them. Bunny & Tree captures the passage of time in such a unique way—more like telling a story over a long walk. My son and I were led on long a journey together through a poetic allegory—all told using beautifully painted pictures and symbols that my son could fully understand. Stories like these use a magical language that is extremely powerful to children, and leave an imprint on who we are and how we go about the rest of our lives. We all remember reading Where the Wild Things Are or The Giving Tree or perhaps seeing the films of Miyzaki. Bunny & Tree speaks to us in much the same way—silently powerful, charmingly beautiful and forever memorable. I won't ever forget this book. It is a deeply powerful allegory, deceptively simple yet dense with messages and illustrated with stunningly beautiful paintings—an absolute joy for readers to explore young or old. Thanks for sharing this with the world, Balint. It is needed."
— Brian Rea


A Petite Librairie Drawn & Quarterly (Montréal, QC) Best Children's Book of 2023!

“This gorgeous, wordless picture book features 184 pages of stunning hand-painted watercolor illustrations… The perfect addition to any collector's library! And not just your young readers' but for any art connoisseur!”

— Books of Wonder (New York, NY)

A Greenlight Bookstore Holiday Pick! "A beautifully drawn folktale... Told without a single word on the page, this is a great gift for any age, from your 3-year-old niece in desperate need of a new bedtime story to your 33-year-old best friend looking for something impressive and aesthetically pleasing to display on their coffee table. Imaginative, interpretative, and downright stunning, you can't go wrong."
— Ashli

“Though I adore the written word, there is a magic in the ability of a wordless picture book to take our imaginations to a place of connection and meaning of our own interpretation… A fantastical journey of discovery and transformation… The visual storytelling reminds us that everything in the world is connected and that together we can find our way.”
— Interabang Books (Dallas, TX)

“We’re just going to say it: Bunny & Tree is a masterpiece of children’s storytelling… Tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a bunny and a tree through illustrations alone, enveloping the reader in a rich world of narrative imagery. We love it!”
— Oblong Books (Hudson Valley, NY)

“We are enamored with this gorgeous all-ages storybook… Absolutely enchanting.”
— Spectator Books (Oakland, CA)

The Shelf Editions Pick for September! “A wonderful wordless piece of art and an epic tale of friendship and adventure… This book is a wild ride of friendship and adventure, full of imagination and emotion. It’s really a feast for the eyes and soul, one to pore over.“
— Shelf Editions (Lincoln, UK)

"Oh, what a magnificent book! Bunny & Tree is a wordless book by Balint Zsako, with the most stunning atmospheric illustrations that are imbued with such sensitivity, and which tell the tale beautifully! … This sweet and tender story about friendship and adventure will warm the hearts of readers of all ages."
— Tales for Tadpoles (Dublin, Ireland)