We Planted a Tree

What It Is

A story about the important functions of trees cleverly told through the eyes of two families who each plant a tree -- one in New York City and the other in Africa. In addition to these locations, we see how trees grow throughout the world and each season. We learn that blossoms drop to reveal leaves, which bring food to the tree, keep the earth cool and the air clean. We also learn about the different types of fruits that trees can provide, among other important functions such as keeping soil healthy for other plantings that grow into healthy food for humans and animals. The story comes full circle in the end with the message that if we help trees “grow up,” they will help us to grow too.

Why It’s Fun

Diane Muldrow teaches us about trees through a simple story with examples that young children can recognize in their own environment, such as tree buds “bursting” open and leaves providing shade. So many of the “eco-friendly” books being released lately deliver their messages in adult terms, which can really miss the intended target. Plus, Bob Staake’s unique style of illustration, seen in popular books such as “The Donut Chef,” brings a whimsical feeling to the story and further helps kids and adults absorb the environmental “lesson.” (Fans of “The Donut Chef” will like the character’s cameo appearance. See if you can find it!)

Through the illustrations, we also receive a bit of a cultural and geographical lesson by observing the hometowns and lifestyles of the two families, along with a taste of China, Paris, Vermont and the midwest farmlands (presumably). This could be a nice entry point for a chat about the way people live in different parts of the world.

Who’s Going To Love It

Newly released, hopefully this book will become a favorite with adults and kids. It makes a terrific read-aloud for preschool and early grade school teachers as part of an Earth Day celebration or lesson on the environment. The publisher’s recommended age is 5 to 8, but I believe that kids as young as three will understand elements of the book because of the story’s brevity, repetition and simplicity. A welcome addition for your child’s at-home library, Ms. Muldrow gives us the feeling that if everyone planted just one tree, the world would be a better place. I think we’ll be planting a tree in our yard this spring!

Reading Time

About 2 minutes

Read-It-Again Points

8 out of 10

Book Information

We Planted a Tree
By: Diane Muldrow, Illustrated by Bob Staake
Published by: Golden Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books (2010)
Approximate retail price: $17.99 (hardcover)

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