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The Children's Bookshelf: Some Questions About Trees - April 18, 2022

Some Questions About Trees written and illustrated by Toni Yuly is a charming picture book about a very young girl’s wonderings about the trees she sees outside her house and in the park. Her questions are natural, realistic and ever so cute. “Where do trees live? On the earth… or in the sky?” she asks as she compares the low standing trunk to the high climbing branches.

The little girl’s mind doesn’t stop there. She would like answers to important questions such as how trees know when Spring arrives and whether tall trees ever get lonely.

One of the most delightful illustrations unfolds around her question about for whom do trees make fruit. The colorful illustration of a tree full of bright red apples is eye luscious! Birds and squirrels eat the fallen apples as a well-behaved fox looks on and a friendly brown bear walks off with a mouth full of the tasty fruit.

These charming illustrations are rendered in chalk pastel, torn tissue paper, paper, pen and ink and digital collage leaving lots of beautful white space. The picture of a tree full of black birds, red birds, blue jays, a yellow finch, and squirrels all moving to and frow suggests to the little girl that they might just be the tree’s friends. And where is the little girl in this visually active picture? She is contentedly enjoying her swing as it moves back and forth from one of the tree’s lower branches.

Some Questions About Trees written and illustrated by Toni Yuly is a lovely introduction to the beauty and work of trees for children 4-8 years of age (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/an imprint of Simon and Schuster, 2022).

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 Some Questions about Trees

The little girl in this story asks 13 questions about trees. What questions do you want to ask about trees? Think about the trees you see in your backyard, around your school yard and in the parks near you. Think about what you would like to know and make a list of your very own questions.

Turn to the two-page illustration that shows many birds in and around a tree and find the following: a yellow finch, a black bird, a blue jay, a baby red bird, a cluster of wrens, two squirrels and one human.

With the help of parents go online and listen to the birdsong of each of the following birds: a yellow finch, a robin, a blue jay and a black bird. Then try to sing each of these birdsongs out loud. You can even ask parents and siblings to join you. Have fun!

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.