One morning hundreds of years ago, an acorn fell and grew in the earth. And that was me."" So begins the saga of the Treaty Oak, in Austin, Texas--a great tree that was friends with the buffalo, a climbing place for the ""First People,"" and the site of an early peace treaty between them and Austin's settlers. Having survived natural calamaties, wars, builders, and the Depression, the tree was nearly destroyed in 1989 when someone poured poison over its roots. A great public effort was made to treat and preserve the tree, which is still alive. Levine (. . . If Your Name Was Changed at Ellis Island, 1993, etc.) steps back and lets the tree narrate its history from 1590 to the present, but the result is maudlin and sentimental; Rand's artwork, showing the tree over 400 years, simply doesn't achieve its usual heights.