THERE WAS A TREE by Rachel Isadora


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Age Range: 3 - 7
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The East African savanna forms the backdrop for this appealing version of a familiar American cumulative song.

Returning to the African setting and textured collage technique she has used so successfully in adaptations of folk tales, Isadora reworks what has become a traditional children's song. (Credit to the 1912 songwriters and identification of the animals shown appear on the back jacket flap but not in the text.) The superb starling makes a splendid choice for the bird in the nest on the branch on the tree where the green grass grew all around, all around. Its bright blue and orange coloration both stands out and blends into the oranges and greens of this grassland world, which the artist has populated with people and iconic animals including lions, giraffes and elephants. Oil-painted and printed cut papers make up her scenes: The animals, plants and bright sun or concluding night sky are (mostly) set on a white background. Each illustration extends completely across the double-page spread, bordered by a square patchwork that sometimes includes what appear to be woven textiles. In the white spaces, the song grows, with small rebus images appearing after the first use of each word on the page. A key to the rebus appears at the end along with the music and lyrics.

A read-aloud, sing-along delight. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-399-25741-4
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2012


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