From acorn to huge tree, an oak provides the focal point for this clear and simple look at over two centuries of change in a single landscape.
A small boy plants an acorn in summer, close to a wigwam, high above a wide river. Though readers will guess that the tall ships that appear in the river by autumn don’t belong to the same people whose canoe crosses toward shore in the first pages, Karas avoids editorializing. In the next pages, “The boy grew up and moved away. Farmers now lived here.” The perspective stays: the growing tree, the river below, hills rolling away to the horizon. But seasons change, the occupants of the house on the land are different on each spread, and the landscape transforms by human hands through agriculture and construction. Karas’ gouache-and-pencil art has a friendly, intimate quality. A timeline grows along the bottom of the page, beginning when the tree sprouts in 1775 and indicating the passage of time at a rate of 25 years per spread. The tree is brought down by a storm in 2000—here the narrative changes from past tense to a “you are there” present tense.
Young readers may be charmed to realize that the tree sprout near the old oak’s stump could by now be a sapling. This will invite repeat visits. (Informational picture book. 4-8)