Who Makes a Forest?
Sally Nicholls and Carolina Rabei
I received this lovely book the day after I’d spent a gorgeous (slightly damp) morning walking in a forest not far from my Gloucestershire home. I commented to my partner what an uplifting experience it was, (and always is) in stark contrast to all the pandemic doom and gloom in the media. Had I been out with youngsters I might well have asked them if they’d ever wondered how such a forest came into being: now I have an ideal starting point.
On the first page is posed the title question, followed by a number of possibilities, as two children, a male adult and a dog walk in a forest landscape.
How can something so vast and full of closely-growing trees and often, dense undergrowth have come into being? Could it have been created magically – by a giant perhaps? Or, as a large company enterprise? Or perhaps by other groups of humans?
It’s almost impossible to believe that something so huge was once very small but it’s true, as Sally’s effective story tells and Carolina Rabei’s beautiful illustrations show, demonstrating to children the entire process starting from bare, stony ground that becomes soil through the action and interaction of lichens, algae, moss,
and tiny insects causing a gradual fertilisation of the ground and eventual formation of soil.
Then come the first flowers, ferns and grasses,
the seeds and spores of which spread, becoming more flowers that attract bees and insects that feed on them.
Growth and change continue through the years, the centuries until there’s a huge ecosystem that we call a forest.
As the story concludes we come full circle to the ‘who made’ question and then read, “No. / It was the seeds / and the bees and the / roots of the trees. / It was a thousand / thousand tiny things. // And together they changed the face of the earth.’ A fitting finale to an inspiring story.
Not quite the end of the book though for the final five pages provide interesting facts about forests in various parts of the world and a last word about making a difference that relates to deforestation.
Whether for home bookshelves or school classroom collections, I strongly recommend this book.