School has started, and J is so interested in it that I decided it was time to dabble in some home preschool activities. Helping me out is this fancy new blog, which has already started me thinking thematically. All I really need to add is a craft and a field trip right? Since it is the beginnings of autumn, I decided to do a tree theme. We could take tree-walks and collect things for our nature table and take stock of the vast greenness of the leaves to compare with the yellows, reds and oranges we will see later in the season. I got some books from the library, we did our walk, and then J refused to be interested in any of the books I had found. On our walk we mostly talked about defeating the lions he was imagining. The only books he wants to read are fairy tales. But since I gathered tree books, that is what I am going to review today, even if the three year old gives them all a review of “NO!”
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert (1991) is the tree book we own. It tells the story of a maple tree that grows up in the woods and then is moved to the nursery and sold to become someone’s own tree. What I like best about this book, and Ehlert’s style in general, is the combination of collage textures. She uses pictures of real things along with paper cutouts to create simple, vibrant, and striking illustrations. She also tags the different birds and plants that she illustrates throughout the book, giving the book the feel of a nature journal. J likes it because it follows a story and is not purely instructional, I like it because it does include some nature instruction, and thus feels educational.
A similar book we got from the library is Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins (1998).This book has no story and is split between talking about the different features of leaves – narrow and wide, jagged or smooth edged and pages dedicated to specific trees. J threw this one down and refused to listen and could not even be enticed to look at any of the pictures. The pictures are what make this book significant. The leaves are photographed at different stages of their autumnal development. Each page dedicated to a different tree has 2-8 leaves of different size and color as well as a photo of the tree itself in autumnal array. I have enjoyed looking through this book, but I think I agree with J that the writing is a bit uninteresting.
The last book is another book structured with more of a story and J did like this one enough to sit through one reading. It is called Who Will Plant a Tree by Jerry Pallotta and Illustrated by Tom Leonard(2010). On each page it tells how a different kind of tree is planted by a different animal. The oil paintings include the animal in action eating a fruit or with a burr stuck to its fur, and the tree that was planted by the action at a few stages of its development. The writing aims for cute and a little silly, making it entertaining for the tree years old who still thinks poop is hilarious.
Ehlert, L. (1991) Red leaf, yellow leaf. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Books.
Palotta, J. (2010) Who will plant a tree. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Sleeping Bear Press.
Robbins, K. (1998) Autumn leaves. New York: Scholastic Press