Be A Tree!

Be A Tree!
Maria Gianferrari and Felicita Sala
Abrams Books for Young Readers

‘Be a tree! // Stand tall. / Stretch your branches to the sun.’

So begins this gorgeous book. With its lyrical text and beautiful, vibrant watercolour, gouache and coloured pencil illustrations author and illustrator invite readers to look anew at ourselves and at trees, one of nature’s true treasures. By so doing we come to realise that humans and trees share similar physical characteristics: trunks and spines, branches and arms, a protective outer layer – bark and skin, a topmost crown and more.

Throughout, the trees – no matter their particular species, of which many are shown – take centre stage, standing tall and majestic, and viewed from a variety of perspectives, frequently dwarfing the humans who play, sit, walk beneath, or climb upon them.

In addition to basic anatomy, we’re asked to consider similarities such as the importance of sharing resources, alerting one another to danger, (by means of ‘a wood wide web of information’), to see the strength in diversity, while gently urging each and every one of us towards- a ‘family, a community, a country, a cosmos’ where ‘There is enough for all.’

What a wealth of wonder and learning potential is packed between the covers of this book,. It’s one to return to over and over, perhaps first being encouraged be we child or adult, to stretch and uncurl like the tree’s overground parts, then curl, coil and become rooted, as a prelude to considering the ways in which we can take our cue from the trees in how we live our lives. (The final pages suggest ways to help save trees, how to build community, there’s a spread on a tree’s anatomy and some suggested further reading and websites to visit.)

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