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Category: Featured Books

Willow Tree’s Gift, Now in Hardcover and Color!

You can now enjoy the Little Mouse Doll’s adventure into kindness with the hardcover book from Barnes and Noble!

Enjoy the 20 full-color illustrations of the child’s toy that comes to life one night beneath a willow tree, before a storm. Read how we learns about community, how we treat others because of our differences, and how we learns about kindness and cruelty through the eyes of farm and forest animals.

Why do the mice fear the cat, and why must the cat hurt them?
Why does the sheepdog bark at the sheep, and why do the sheep live in torment?
Why is the farmer cruel, and why has he faced so much hardship?
Why is the little boy sick, and why don’t the farm animals talk about it?
Why are the forest animals so mysterious, and why do they terrorize the farm?
And what secrets do the forest hide, and will the little mouse doll discovery them?

Find out the answers to all of these questions and more!


Willow Tree’s Gift is IndieReader Approved!

Willow Tree’s Gift, by Sebastian A. Barnes has been reviewed by IndieReader!

IndieReader is a powerful community for independently published authors to promote and share their work. I am grateful to write that my novel for young adults, Willow Tree’s Gift, has been rated 4 out of 5 Stars. With a final verdict from the reviewer:

Not since Orwell’s ANIMAL FARM has a supposed animal “fairy tale” so clearly and effectively imparted a message for all.

To see the full review, check out the IndieReader website.
IR Sticker Approved Sticker

Kindness Prologue

The story behind the story of the Willow Tree’s Gift…
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The Willow Tree’s Gift is a story about kindness. This topic is personal to me, and I learned through my research on kindness in history, religion, philosophy and sociology that more unites us than divides us. However today it feels there is more divisiveness than ever. This divisiveness can feel scary, so we retreat to places where we feel safe, like our communities. There we are comforted, so much so that we also sometimes shun or even fear other communities, simply because they are different than our own.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I believe the barriers we create by our communities are imaginary. I believe almost everyone is good, but not everyone knows how to be kind. This is because kindness is taught and is a conscious act to help end others’ suffering, regardless of the community we belong. And if that isn’t possible, at least do no harm. This was the book’s genesis. It isn’t intended to be an instruction on kindness, but by better understanding how our attachments influence us, it hopefully instills a lesson.

The protagonist, the little mouse doll, woke one night beneath a willow tree before a storm. The willow tree is in a meadow between two communities: the forest and the farm. Yet, the doll is neither living nor inanimate, a forest or a farm animal: he can never belong to these communities, or anywhere, simply for being what he is. And yet, there is magic to him, like a sunrise or the infinite starry night. It is the kind of magic that makes us accept our place amongst all things; wonders colossal and insignificant, impossible and practical, alive and not. His magic is kindness.

This story is about belonging, differences and why they matter at all. It is about loving ourselves and knowing we’ll always belong when we do. It is about falling in love when it seems impossible, making friends when we least expect it, and standing up for what is right no matter how frightening it may seem.

This story lets us view the world through the polished button eyes of the little mouse doll, challenges our preconceived notions, does so with awe, and sees each moment as a gift when we cherish kindness. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed sharing it.

Sebastian A. Barnes
Author of the Willow Tree’s Gift
Discover it now

Willow Tree’s Gift, Chapter Two: Wonder

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An excerpt from Willow Tree’s Gift, Chapter Two: Wonder. In this chapter you are introduced to the novel’s protagonist. Enjoy…

His button eyes came to life. They didn’t blink or flutter as they looked at the dark meadow. They couldn’t. They were polished buttons sown to a cloth head. They could only gaze at the bright full moon and the twinkling lights of the infinite starry night.

“How?” He asked the stars. They didn’t answer.

He looked above and saw a dark green canopy of drooping leaves. They slowly swayed. His polished button eyes watched their gentle rhythm. Carved into the trunk far above him was a heart. He leaned back and bumped his soft, cloth head against the coarse bark of the willow tree.

“Ouch,” he squeaked at the willow tree although it didn’t hurt much.

He lifted his small cloth arm to rub the back of his head, , instead caught it on a large, fabric ear. His ears were too large to stand on their own. When he touched them, they came to life too, and he heard crickets chirping, frogs calling and the wind rustling through tall grass.

“Wow,” he said to the crickets and the frogs and the wind.

He twitched his fluffy nose at the sounds and it also came to life. He smelled the dewy grass and the faint blossoms. His polished button eyes scanned the meadow to match sight and smell. His stitched mouth curled to smile. He then sensed a new smell. It smelled like fur and dirt, but he couldn’t find it.

“What is this?” He asked the phantom smell. It didn’t answer.

His cloth legs stirred and he stood. His limbs wobbled. They were almost too small to lift his round cloth body. As he stammered a thistle caught onto his yarn tail.

“Stop it,” he said to the thistle.

He grabbed his yarn tail to fling the thistle away, but it was latched tight. He pawed it only to catch it on his cloth arm. He pawed at it with his other arm, but it only got caught again. It clung to his ears, limbs and nose until it became loosely fastened to his purple bowtie and finally rolled to the ground. He looked at the thistle.

“Oh, how pleasant,” he said to his purple bowtie and walked into the tall grass.

He found a lake and its water was dark and still. He stopped at its edge to look at his reflection. He was a little mouse doll, larger than a child’s hand, but small enough to fit in a child’s pocket.

“Why?” He asked the lake. It didn’t answer.

He must’ve stared at his reflection for a long time, for the moon slowly drifted across the sky. The little mouse doll didn’t think about anything in particular, only the thought of being able to think at all, and what it meant, if anything, that he could. He was interrupted by a low growl and the smell of fur and dirt. He turned and saw a tabby cat. The cat was crouched, his pale eyes squinted at the doll, and a blue scarf was tied around his neck.

“Hello,” the doll said. The tabby cat with the blue scarf pounced.

Novel: Willow Tree’s Gift, Available End of July!

I am pleased to announce a project that has been sixteen months in the making: the upcoming release of my next novel, “Willow Tree’s Gift.” It is a story about kindness, belonging, differences and why they matter. It is a story about communities, and how they influence us to see the world as a kind or a cruel place. And it is a story about a little mouse doll who wakes one night beneath a willow tree before a storm.
Enjoy the full synopsis. The book will be released on Amazon end of July…

Is this world cruel or kind? Does your community shape this belief? Do you fear other communities?

The little mouse doll woke one night beneath a willow tree before a storm. The willow tree is in a meadow between two communities, and the little mouse doll doesn’t belong to either. One community is the farm that is controlled by the farmer. The farmer suffers because his child is terminally ill, and the farm animals suffer because of the farmer’s will. The other community is the forest, which is full of fright and a place of mystery and peril. It is home to monstrous beasts like owls, foxes and snakes. And within the forest is a hidden secret. These two communities fear each other.

But the little mouse doll doesn’t understand this fear, not because he can’t get scared, but because fear never taught him to stop being who he is.

This is a story about kindness, belonging, differences and why they matter at all. The little mouse doll makes friends, some enemies, falls in love, and vows to help the dying farmer’s child. But to do that he needs to learn the forest’s secret. And to learn it he must discover how truly kind or cruel the world is.