I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the trees in my yard. I live in an old neighborhood, and my yard is packed with massive, mature trees. In the spring and summer, I see other people’s lush, sun-soaked green lawns, then look at my thin and patchy lawn and lament the fact that grass just doesn’t grow well in the shade. In the fall, we spend hours and hours raking leaves, often in a race against the first snowfall. However, these downsides are balanced out by the glorious shade that makes all the difference while sitting outside on a hot, humid summer day. Plus, the trees provide habitats for a myriad of squirrels, birds, and insects that keep us entertained and connected to nature, even in the city.
So, I have had trees on my mind lately! Here are some wonderful picture books that feature trees:
Maple by Lori Nichols. 9780399160851. 2014. Gr. PS-1.
Maple is a little girl whose parents planted a tree in her honor when she was born; the story is about her relationship with the tree as she grows. Maple enjoys her tree in a variety of ways, from singing to it, playing imagination games with it, and just lying beneath it watching its leaves dance in the wind. Later, though, Maple finds that another tree is planted near hers, and learns that she is to become a big sister. This is a very sweet story about appreciating nature and sibling relationships. Look for the sequel, Maple and Willow Together, which will be published in November 2014.
Sequoia by Tony Johnston and Wendell Minor (ill.). 9781596437272. September 2014. Gr. K-2.
In Sequoia, Johnston personifies a majestic Giant Sequoia, and offers insight into what such a grand old tree may be observing throughout his life, from snowfall to forest fires, to animals and stars. Sparse and poetic text accompanies the paintings by Wendell Minor, which are absolutely gorgeous. The combination of images and text is beautiful…for a small moment, I was able to transform my cubicle into a quiet Southern California forest and imagine what the last 3,200 years of the Sequoia’s life may have been like.
Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. 9780062274458. 2013. Gr. PS-2.
In the age of digital storybooks and iPad games where even the youngest of children can tap and interact, it is refreshing to see physical book titles such as this one, where kids can interact with the story. The book starts out with a bare tree, and instructs the reader to tap the page. Upon turning the page, one sees that bright green leaves have appeared on the branches. A variety of other actions bring about a number of other surprises, which young readers will find to be a lot of fun. In the spirit of Herve Tullet’s Press Here, this one is sure to delight.
The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins. 9781442414020. 2013. Gr. 1-4.
This is the story of Kate Sessions, a girl growing up in the late 1800s in Northern California. She was always interested in plants and trees, and in a time where girls weren’t supposed to become scientists, did just that. She was the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a science degree, and became such an expert on plants and trees in California, she was asked to plant the gardens for a large exposition in San Diego’s Balboa Park, which now encompasses the San Diego Zoo. Sessions was instrumental in beautifying the area, and is sometimes referred to as the “Mother of Balboa Park”. The Tree Lady is a great story of loving nature, a pioneering woman, and following your dreams.