Story | 05 Jun, 2020

Tara and the Magic Tree

The newest CEC product is about a little girl named Tara who befriended a Magic Tree that helps her fighting for a cleaner planet

This book is of interest to the worldwide network of CEC members who are working on educating children on ecological issues. It therefore is fully aligned with CEC missions; firstly, it helps enabling the global community to communicate effectively and use knowledge to create a positive shift in conservation and secondly, by involving young teenage girls in the illustration works, this project showcases a great example on how youth can take an active part in nature conservation in a meaningful way.


Read it in eBook format here

Discover the story of the first Ecological book of the First Ecological State in the World: Montenegro. This eco-tale about fighting for a cleaner planet is imaginative work intertwined with the exciting adventures of a little girl named Tara who befriended a Magic Tree, and prompt us to think: “Are we cutting the branch we are sitting on?”. Written by a forest engineer and children’s book writer, illustrated by 10 teenage girls studying at the National Art School of Montenegro, this book is also supporting vulnerable women in rural areas in a very creative way.

This is the story of a book.
But not just any book. Its story and how it was made makes it truly unique.
Montenegro is a tiny European country which proclaimed itself the First Ecological State in the world in 1991, it has indeed amazing prime forests, incredible inhabited landscapes and areas where people are still living in traditional and sustainable ways off the land. This status is also highly threatened: it has serious problems with pollution (the amount of litter flourishing around in nature is absolutely flabbergasting!), habitat destruction and declining biodiversity. It is mostly due to near complete lack of education in schools and families about these issues.

Zarko and Alexandra, respectively forest engineer, children books writer, environmental scientist and social entrepreneur wanted to do something about it, so they teamed up to create the first fairy tale with an ecological twist in Montenegro. The objective of this book is not only creating awareness and sparkling debates in families and schools on circular economy, composting and nature protection but also on preserving traditions in a fast-changing world. 

When it was time to choose the illustrations, they decided to give their chance to young talents of Montenegro, ten teenage girls studying at the National Art School of Montenegro. It was the first time for them to work professionally and the results exceeded everyone’s expectations! Not only has the book already won 2 awards in 2019, a Literary Prize and the award of the Best Child Book in Montenegro… but it is also the first book ever to be printed on recycled paper in Montenegro!

The book also has another mission: supporting the local economy through the social enterprise Znuggle. It gives work to vulnerable women living in the remote mountains of the North, where they make beautiful soft toys with rescued sheep wool that they colour with plants and fruits picked in their area. All entirely by hand. Those traditional areas are threatened as more and more people migrate to the larger cities, and those traditions - so in tune with nature- are getting lost.

Tara and the Magic Tree is an eco-tale about fighting for a cleaner planet, which teaches us the basics of the concept of Zero Waste, where the Znuggle soft toys are the heroes. The story is an imaginative work intertwined with the exciting adventures of unusual inhabitants of the Stobojne Mountains, which prompt us to think: “Are we cutting the branch we are sitting on?”.
In order not to fall into the abyss full of plastic and garbage, there is Tara – a powerful eco-warrior, Timothy – a curious boy, and a prophetic gentleman named Immanade, a guardian of miraculous wool, a purple-eyed woman, a donkey Maga – a carrot juice taster and a frog who knows only one a word, but even that is enough for him to share advice and scare the miscreants.

We hope you’ll enjoy the story of Tara and that it will encourage many children around the world to also become Nature Readers!

Authors: Alexandra Aubertin, IUCN CEC member and Žarko Vučinić