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The Children's Bookshelf: Evergreen - March 26, 2023

EVERGREEN written and illustrated by Caldecott winner Matthew Cordell is a big, beautiful book about a small, sweet squirrel by the name of Evergreen. Evergreen is afraid of many things. When her mother asks her to take some home-made soup to Granny Oak who is ill and lives in Buckthorn Forest she is frightened. As the reader will see, many things scare little Evergreen.

The six chapters find Evergreen conquering her fears as she saves a rabbit from being stuck between two giant rocks, meets a high-flying hawk, saves Grandpa Sprig’s grandson Squirt who has gone too far out in the rocky water and cannot get back and finally delivers the soup to Granny Oak------who is a bear.

There are “sound words” attached to many of Evergreen’s adventures such as SKREEE-EEE, GROAK, CRACK, HISSSSSS and BOOM that children will totally enjoy.

The fun-filled cleverness of Matthew Cordell’s creativity can also be experienced when one removes the paper cover of this picture book and finds a surprising and delightful hard back cover on which there is an entire map of Buckthorn Forest including such places as Cricket Pond, Acorn Hills, Grammy Oak’s House, Crows Alley, Sassafras Stream, Mt. Holly, Grubb’s Crossing, Stag Valley, and Mama and Evergreen’s House.

Evergreen written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell is a sweet story of courage, trust, and love for children 2-5 years of age (Feiwel and Friends, 2023).

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 Evergreen

For young children: Evergreen is afraid of Buckthorn Forest and many of the sounds she hears there such as -----CRACK! BOOM! and HISSSSSS! Ask older brothers, sisters, Mom, and Dad to play a sound word game with you by speaking each of these sound words out loud. Have fun with your voice---CROAK like a toad.

For older children: Evergreen is afraid of many things. Make a list of the animals that she is afraid of in this story. Moms and Dads can help with the making of this list. Next, draw a picture of Evergreen with Ember the hawk. What does Evergreen do for Ember to make him feel better? Do you think they will ever be friends?

Turn to the hard cover of this book and study the map of Buckthorn Forest and find Mt. Holly, Grubb’s Crossing, Stag Valley, and Cricket Pond. What other spots can you think of that could be on this map? Use your imagination.

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.