Still, a solid foundation, a taproot to appreciating the incredible diversity and contribution of trees to our everyday...

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DEEP ROOTS

HOW TREES SUSTAIN OUR PLANET

From the Orca Footprints series

A rangy introduction to trees and how they sustain our very existence.

Tate jumps right in, letting readers know that trees are sometimes obscured by the forest and taken for granted. But, as she points out, trees provide creatures of every stripe with indispensable shelter, food, oxygen, water filtration, soil enrichment, and a source for heat, with their very beauty in evidence on every page via sharp, chromatic photographs. She tells of trees’ fundamental importance to the earth, air, water, and fire—no other subject comes close to being so important to these elemental states—and also, through various boxed items, provides good, attention-grabbing facts: ironwood sinks; read time and weather in tree rings. Perhaps most significantly, she conveys a sense of how trees serve as barometers to environmental health and trouble. The text is for the most part aptly paced and communicative, with minor episodes of droning: “A carefully planted and managed woodlot is made up of tree species selected for particular qualities like speed of growth or the type of wood produced.” Only rarely is the subject not explained adequately, as in phytoremediation (a word with forgettable value here): “Even though you can’t see them, tree roots play a critical role in keeping forest ecosystems in good shape.” Because...?

Still, a solid foundation, a taproot to appreciating the incredible diversity and contribution of trees to our everyday lives. (resources, glossary index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0582-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Readers new to Gooseberry Park will hope they don’t have to wait another 20 years for the next book

GOOSEBERRY PARK AND THE MASTER PLAN

Twenty years after the publication of Gooseberry Park (1995), Rylant returns with a sequel.

In the previous outing, the residents of Gooseberry Park coped with an ice storm; now, a drought threatens Stumpy the squirrel and her family, along with all the other animals. This spurs house pets chocolate Lab Kona and hermit crab Gwendolyn to devise the titular master plan to help their friends through the ecological disaster. Herman the crow—so smart that the rest of the crows have given up the annual chess match because they got sick of losing to him—works out a flowchart that involves a cat, a possum, a raccoon, 200 owls, and 20 packs of chewing gum. Murray the bat’s motivational-speaker brother puts his well-developed jaw muscles to work on the gum; Kona’s chocolate-Lab sincerity wins the unprecedented cooperation of 200 owls. Rylant writes with her customary restrained humor, creating with apparently no effort a full cast of three-dimensional furred and feathered characters. The story comes with lessons ranging from the overuse of fossil fuels to the peculiar magic of friendship, all applied with a gentle hand and a spirit of generous trust in the abilities of her readers to understand them. Her frequent collaborator Howard supplies lumpily humorous grayscale illustrations that augment the character development and give readers’ eyes places to rest.

Readers new to Gooseberry Park will hope they don’t have to wait another 20 years for the next book . (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0449-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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