Monday, February 25, 2008

Nonfiction Monday --Oldie but Goodie



I recently received, as a professional courtesy, a copy of the book, This is the Tree, A Story of the Baobab. It was written by Miriam Moss, and was originally published in Great Britain in 2000. Its first American edition was published the same year, but there wasn’t a paperback edition published in America until 2005.

So I chose this book not because it is current, but because it has so many intriguing entry points and can appeal to a wide audience in the elementary years. I also like this book because I learned about something new and fascinating to me – the African baobab tree (also know as the “monkey bread tree”).

The book is written entirely in free verse, and each page contains a picture of at least part of the baobab tree, and all the animal life that finds either food, shelter, or both, in the tree. The verse not only contains great facts, but the language Moss uses is beautiful:
“This is the tree that dances with monkeys,
alive with their leapings
at the end of the day.”

The illustrations are done by Adrienne Kennaway. She illustrates the boabab tree from a different perspective on each page. The tree comes alive in her illustrations – there is much to pause and notice. The animals on each page are a visual delight – kids will love them!

Back to my comment about multiple entry points: If your children are younger, and you would like to introduce them to a wide variety of animals, this is the book for you. If you are doing a unit on Africa, and its plants and animals, this is the book for you. If your children are 5th graders (like mine), and they are currently studying ecosystems, and the interdependence of everything in the ecosystem on everything else, this most definitely is the book for you. If you are teaching a nonfiction writing unit, and you want to have an example of how a writer can use beautiful verse and still share information, this is the book for you. For those of you who like your facts wrapped up in a nice, neat package in one place, this is the book for you – Moss has devoted the last two pages to identifying the critical points of the baobab tree, and gives detailed information about each. If you already own this book, but have just forgotten about it, this is still the book for you.

This is the Tree may be an “oldie”, but it definitely is a “goodie”.

Head on over to Picture Book of the Day for the Nonfiction Monday roundup.

1 comment:

  1. Karen-
    My first graders have been begging me to read this...ok tomorrow! We'll see what they notice!

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