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ONE SMALL PLACE IN A TREE by Barbara Brenner


by Barbara Brenner & illustrated by Tom Leonard

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: March 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-688-17180-X
Publisher: HarperCollins

Brenner shows young readers two different ways of looking at nature. By the Sea focuses on a tide pool, a place “no bigger than a bathtub,” and invites the reader to examine its occupants closely. When the tide brings in plankton-laden seawater, the mussels and barnacles eat. But then a sea star eats a mussel, an anemone eats a snail, and a hermit crab jumps into the empty snail shell the anemone discarded. Very quickly and simply, readers understand how everything in the pool is related. If something upsets the pool’s equilibrium, “[it] would still be a tide pool, but it would change”—a complicated concept that invites further thought. In a Tree, however, shows how a small space can evolve over a much greater span of time. First a bear scratches a tree; timber beetles burrow into the cut in the bark; woodpeckers feasting on beetles help to create a hole; squirrels move in, then bluebirds. Eventually the tree dies and falls, but the hole remains an animal home. The two share a spare, poetic language, giving just enough information. Leonard’s bright illustrations match the text well—detailed, but not overly so, with a good sense of movement and life. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9)