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The Children's Bookshelf: TREES

TREES written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Tiffany Bozic is a gorgeous tribute to the beauty of trees and why they absolutely matter to the planet and all of us on it right now and in the future. The cover of this book is a work of art in every respect. A huge illustration of a Kapok tree standing in the light of the sun occupies the entire front cover with its life sustaining roots anchoring the trunk, the limbs and leaves. It is beautiful.

Nineteen trees are showcased in this picture book including the maple tree, the redwood, the Japanese emperor oak tree, the weeping willow and the bristlecone pine. Each tree has been painted by the illustrator directly on wooden panels rendering the pictures of the trees full of life and purpose. The trees have also been drawn from interesting vantage points. For instance, the illustration of the redwood places the reader somewhere outside the picture as she looks up through the branches of the tree to the very top!

The stories of these trees are told in a lovely lyrical manner. For instance, the weeping willow with its comfortable trunk makes a quiet place for a child to be. “I like to read in the shade of a tree. Just a tree and me.”

The author also presents the fact that trees are there for not only children but also forest creatures such as woodpeckers, songbirds, butterflies and playful squirrels. “Like friends, trees stay,” says the author.

TREES written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Tiffany Bozic offers superb back material conversations as to why trees are important and why they are called water recycling machines. All nineteen trees pictured in this book are also identified in the back materials. This book is ideal for readers 5-8 years of age.( Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for TREES

The final illustration shows someone with their two hands hugging a Jeffery Pine. Who could it be? Why is this person hugging a tree? Have you ever given a tree a hug? If not be sure to do so before writing a paragraph about how it felt to hug that tree. Identify the type of tree that you hugged, where it is growing and then give that tree a special name.

Go on a tree hunt with a family member. Check out the trees on your block and around your schoolyard. Can you identify any of them? Try to find as many of the 19 trees that are mentioned in this book as you can. Take a picture of each tree that you see and save the photo in your own tree journal or scrapbook. You can repeat the taking of pictures of your favorite trees when the seasons change. Add to your journal or scrapbook as you get more fascinated and involved with trees!

Which of the illustrations of the 19 trees featured in this book do you like the most? Why? How do these illustrations make you feel----happy, surprised, sad or joyful? In other words, feel the pictures.

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.