In honor of the 150th annual celebration of Arbor Day, which was recognized on April 30th, this month’s picture book favorites are about trees. In the picture book world, trees are a topic of timeless relevance, where books that are decades old could have just as likely been written in current times. I hope you’ll look for these great books at your local library or bookstore, so you can read them for yourself and share them with others. Enjoy!
“A Tree is Nice” written by Janice May Udry and illustrated by Marc Simont (Copyright 1956, Harper & Row Publishers) is a 1957 Caldecott Medal winning tribute to trees. I am fortunate to have an original copy in my vintage collection, where I learned from the book jacket that it was also Mrs. Udry’s first book for children. She presents the story with a child-like simplicity, showing the many benefits of trees and suggesting in the end that everyone should plant a tree of their very own. Mr. Simont’s beautiful illustrations range from pencil drawings to full-color spreads, with my favorite being one of several children playing together in and around an apple tree. This sweet, relaxing book from years ago should be required reading in today’s far too complicated world.
“Pie in the Sky” written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert (Copyright 2004, Harcourt Inc.) is the perfect title for a book about a backyard cherry tree that is being observed by an unseen father and child, who are waiting for its cherries to ripen so they can make a pie. The fascinating collage illustrations, created using mixed media, feature what the child sees while patiently waiting for the pie. These items are listed in side notes on each set of pages, so that readers can interactively look for them in the pictures. When Dad finally says “it’s time,” the cherries are picked, prepared, and baked into a pie, using a recipe that is featured as part of the story. This very entertaining book about a cherry tree also teaches children subtle lessons on subjects including patience, science, and cooking.
“A Tree for Me” written by Nancy Van Laan and illustrated by Sheila White Samton (Copyright 2000, Alfred A. Knopf Inc.) is the story of a young boy’s search for the perfect tree to climb. Told in rhyme, with repetitive stanzas that make it a great read-aloud, this counting story follows along with the boy as he chooses to climb each of five trees, only to discover that he’s “mistaken, they’re already taken” by an owl, two possums, three inchworms, four squirrels, and five spiders. Returning home, he soon finds the perfect tree in his own yard and settles down for a nap. Colorful, kid-friendly illustrations are the perfect vehicle to carry readers on this fun adventure.
If you have a favorite picture book about trees to recommend, I’d love to hear about it.
Happy reading! 😊