Geeta Dharmarajan
December 10, 2023
Final Verdict

About the Author

The founder and editor of Katha Books, Geeta Dharmarajan is an award-winning author for children and young adults. She’s written over a hundred books for children and many more articles across national publications. Katha, under her leadership, has reached many heights.
Other Works By Geeta Dharmarajan
Days with Thathu
The Case of Runaway Continents
The Magical Web Bridge
My big Book of Kindness

Listening to Nature’s Whispers: Review of Finding Tree by Geeta Dharmarajan and Rajiv Eipe

Anna Lynn reviews Finding Tree by Geeta Dharmarajan, illustrated by Rajiv Eipe (published by Katha, 2023).

Finding Tree by Geeta Dharmarajan is the story of Nachiketaki, a little girl from the Irular community who sets out to confront Emmeraja – who took away her beloved tree from the land of the living. Through her journey, she finds lessons in grief, loss and renewed hope against the fleeting mortality of earthly life. 

A Childhood Among Trees

Reading Finding Tree by Geeta Dharmarajan was an exercise in memory trails – I reminisced about the trees of my childhood that have now passed on. There was the raintree that was home to two kites that circled our neighbourhood in spring. And there were the Neems that watched over my cycling trips down the street lanes. Then those deep-rooted Rubber trees of Kerala – I bid goodbye to them after every summer vacation at my mother’s village. Most were cut down to make way for concrete homes. But before that, they taught me the ways of quiet being and sharing light and air. Such is the story of cities and towns. 

The story of forests is different. What happens when trees such as Nachiketaki’s are cut down – trees that belong to mangrove forests that house not only the Irular community like hers but various flora and fauna? Reading this book for children, with detailed illustrations by Rajive Ipe, feels like an apology and a prayer at once. 

Finding Tree 1
An illustration from Finding Tree by Geeta Dharmarajan and Rajiv Eipe

We inhabit a world where green cover dwindles by the minute and global temperatures rise by the hour. The future of the children who inherit a world ridden by mistakes of generations past is a huge concern. I have often wondered about the loss of knowledge and understanding across generations as we shift from communities that grew our own food to ones where we buy them packaged in stores.

In Finding Tree, Nachi discovers the world with her Tree. It is a quiet indication of forgotten secrets that biotic forms of trees and plants still hold and impart to humankind. Parrot, who accompanies Nachi in her sojourn, is also a reminder of the animals who depend on these green covers for their homes. 

Themes of Indigenous Care and Dreams for Ecological Sustenance

Geeta Dharmarajan refers to her encounters with the Irular community, with Mangrove forests and concepts of Hindu philosophy in weaving this powerful tale of a child’s journey through grief of loss and rebirth. However, the genius of it lies in her placing of Nachiketaki as a member of the Irular community. In a world facing rapid ecological damage due to globalisation, urbanisation and dwindling green covers, the story of a little girl grieving a tree that has taught her the secrets of living with nature is a refreshing tale of hope.

Geeta Dharmarajan

What’s more, it is now more than ever necessary to turn to the indigenous traditions of a country as diverse as ours to learn from the people who have co-existed peacefully with nature – instead of exploiting its resources.

The Complementary Illustrations of Rajiv Eipe

Rajive Eipe’s illustrations of trees are lush and carry us along as Nachi discovers the worlds of the sky and underwater. In its sudden absence, we feel as bereft as Nachi and her Paatikutti.

Eipe’s creative illustrations extend to Dharmarajan’s interpretation of Emmeraja as a little old woman. Likewise, the mythical Yaalas embodiment of three different forms of ecology around us – the creatures of the sea, of land and of the terrain itself reads as a clever and wondrous discovery for children and adults. The story delicately addresses difficult concepts of death – as a way of letting go for bodies to rest; and life as a means of continuing the circle of life, while we carry memories of ones who have passed on. 

Favourite Quotes from Finding Tree by Geeta Dharmarajan

Stories, child, like Magic, last forever. They stay alive as long as the story-loving heart is alive.

“There is peace between the labh and the dabh,” said Emme. “This is happiness. Here there’s no pain. And this is where anyone who dies, goes. But they’re always there, inside you.” 


This book is highly recommended for children of our times – for the joys and discoveries of the preciousness of nature and what it can teach us beyond the tactile.  It would also satisfy the adult soul who may be searching for meaning in the midst of grief. It urges us to reach towards the living seeds around us, that came before us, seek our care, and will continue to thrive long after we are gone. 

Anna Lynn

Anna Lynn

A research scholar in Comparative Literature, Anna presses watered images into writing, as the Woolfian stream passes. She is an avid reader, interested in art, cinema and women's writing.

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