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THE TREE by Karen Gray Ruelle


by Karen Gray Ruelle & illustrated by Deborah Durland DeSaix

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8234-1904-3
Publisher: Holiday House

A stately elm tree in New York City’s Madison Square Park is estimated to be 250 years old. Ruelle encourages readers to imagine the changes it’s seen as she matches historical events to the growth of the tree, from its beginning in a rural landscape through its presence in the 21st-century metropolis. Because the land was set aside in 1686 as public space, it was spared from developers’ blueprints for its entire history. But it has led a chequered life: It has been a potter’s field, a military training ground, a children’s refuge, the site of famed performance spaces and, somewhat surprisingly, the display venue of the arm of the Statue of Liberty. The author paces the narration perfectly, beginning leisurely and becoming more breathless as life in the city quickens, but she never forgets the tree’s steady presence. DeSaix’s softly drawn watercolors and rubbed oils beautifully capture the march of time and complement the text seamlessly. A vague timeline throughout the work is an unnecessary distraction from this charming piece of history. (historical notes) (Informational picture book. 6-9)