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Historic & Famous Trees of the World

by Margi Preus, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: March 15th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8050-7829-9
Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

From “Methuselah,” a 4,800-year-old bristlecone pine, to young trees grown from seeds taken to the moon, Preus introduces 14 trees so exceptional for their age, size or some historic happening that they have acquired names and fame. These include a bodhi tree in Sri Lanka grown from a branch from a tree under which Buddha sat, an oak in England where Robin Hood met with his band, a Balm-of-Gilead poplar in New York where men left their scythes when they went off to war and a baobab prison tree in Australia. The author has found engaging stories about these trees, but the intended early-elementary audience is not likely to have the historical background to make meaning of them. Even more unfortunately, the illustrations are suggestive rather than representative and, in some places, even confusing. These pencil, ink and watercolor paintings whimsically celebrate real and imagined life in and around the trees. But the “Methuselah” page includes an irrelevant and inaccurate sketch of the solar system; “General Sherman,” a tree whose girth can’t be spanned by 12 people with arms outstretched, is pictured with 13 people standing on one side; and an afterword section on oaks is illustrated with conifer needles and cones. One concluding section describes more about these tree species; a second offers suggestions for helping trees thrive. (bibliography, websites) (Informational picture book. 7-10)