A salute to trees, their needs and the interactions between plants and animals.
Beginning with the roots, Berkes introduces one part of the tree or its environment at a time: soil, rain, trunk, branches, leaves, sun, blossoms and pollen. Each new addition to the cumulative "House That Jack Built" rhyme provides a little information: “This is the rain / that waters the soil / that feeds the roots / that anchor the tree / that bear climbed.” This last line (and the book’s title) may seem odd to children who are reading all about the tree’s needs, but once the bees and their hive and their honey enter the poem, it is not hard to guess how the bear gets involved, nor what will happen to him when he does. Two spreads of backmatter extend the learning, with a huge treasure trove of additional educational materials posted on the publisher’s website. Two pages teach readers about the basic needs of plants and the interaction between plants and animals. Two pages of activities challenge children to match a tree’s parts to their descriptions and conduct some experiments with plants. Rietz’s detailed artwork uses natural colors to great effect—readers will almost smell the blossoms on the tree and hear the buzzing of the bees with their furry bodies and transparent wings.
The repetitive text, surprise ending and effortless learning make this a sure winner for the classroom. (Informational picture book. 3-8)