In honour of Earth Day on Monday, April 22nd, I'm featuring The Tree written by Dana Lyons and illustrated by David Danioth.
Publishing: Illumination Arts, 2002
Intended Audience: 3 years and up
Topic: Trees, Ecosystem
Opening: There's a river flowing near me, and I've watched that river change and grow.
Synopsis: This book is actually a song written from the perspective of a magnificent Douglas Fir, one of the giants living in our beautiful Pacific Rim rain forests. The book is short, but poignant, with stunning illustrations (coloured pencil and gouache) depicting the forests and many species, some of which are in danger of disappearing. The tree describes what it can see and feel and hear. As it hears a bulldozer nearby, it wonders if it will soon die, and worries about what that means for the animals.
Why I Like This Book: It's beautiful, poetic, and serves as a strong, yet gentle reminder about the importance of nature and how we need to be kinder to our planet and all the life that depends on her.
This book will easily lead to a grand conversation with your kids. Especially if you explain to them how the story came about:
As I mentioned above, it's actually a song. Dana, the author, was camping in the Olympic Rain Forest. For four days he sat at the base of an ancient Douglas fir and played his guitar. "As I was packing up to return home, a strange thing happened ~ a fully formed song came flowing through me. Looking up into the giant tree, I said, 'I'll bet this is your song.'"
Years later, a tribal chief on Orcas Island asked Dana if he'd play "The Tree" at a feast. The chief told Dana he recognized the tune: "It is known in our tradition that each tree has its own song. Our music comes from them. We show our respect for the great trees by singing their songs and playing them on the flute. We must all work to save the ancient groves in our territory."
I love that! I feel a connection with trees, too, and I'm usually happiest when I'm running the forest trails around our house. Often, when I'm running up a tough hill, I'll focus on one tree up ahead and imagine that the tree's energy pulls me up the hill. It might be goofy ... but it works :)
1. Dana's blog.
2. Ideas for celebrating Earth Day at EcoKids.
3. Tree of Life art project. Sandi at rubber boots and elf shoes did a "Tree of Life" art lesson with her kids a few days ago, which in turn, inspired me to do the same with mine.
We painted the trees and ground with bright yellow tempera paint (onto brown construction paper). While the paint was wet I sprinkled it with very fine glitter.
The kids then glued on shapes pre-cut (by me) from scrapbook paper and wallpaper samples. They also glued on sequins and jewels.
4. More resources are on this page, where I reviewed the book, A Grand Old Tree.
Congratulations to Barbara from The Corner on Character! You are the winner of David Carter's 100 book!!!!
You can find lots more great kid books here:
Happy Earth Day!