The circle of death and life illustrated by Spirin

What makes a good subject for a children’s picture book?  I see so many similar books on the bookshop shelves.  Clear happy pictures, short happy stories.  “Once There Was a Tree”, written by Natalia Romanova and illustrated by Gennady Spirin,  could not be more different.  As a foretaste, here is a page number:

You can read more about Spirin at this page. He is described as being “like a magician, using his paint brush as a wand.” I hope these scans of the books do justice to his work.  I was once lucky enough to see an exhibition of his original paintings.  They are breathtaking. More