Friday, April 12, 2024

One day this tree will fall by Leslie Barnard Booth, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman

 It's fitting that I read this beautiful picture book, celebrating the life of a tree and biodiversity, at the same time as I was reading Albert Marrin's new narrative nonfiction When Forests Burn about the history of wildfires. I'm also trying (somewhat) to restrain myself from yelling at people who are getting out their leaf blowers to remove any last vestige of leaves or dead plants that they somehow missed in the initial scouring in the fall. Ahem.

The story opens with a twisted, broken pine, covered in moss and fungi. "One day this tree will fall and this story will end. Won't it?" First, we have to go back to the beginning of the story, following the tree from seed to sprout, from sapling to full growth over the period of many, many years.

As the tree matures, it is damaged by fire and drought, but survives and provides a home to numerous wildlife from insects to mammals. But finally, it does fall. But that's not the end of the story. Over many more years to come, the fallen tree provides a home for animals, nutrients for fungi and moss, and a source of food for various bugs that continue the process of decomposition until finally, the fallen tree's story begins again - as a soft, nurturing place for a new seed to sprout and the cycle to begin again.

Textured illustrations show a variety of natural colors, from greens and browns to reds and blues, in the journey of the great tree. Back matter includes an in-depth look at the information behind the story in the life cycle of a tree, including all the different creatures who are part of the interdependent life cycle of trees and the habitat they live in and support. A final note gives specific information about the Pacific Northwest forests which are featured in the story, a glossary, and sources.

Verdict: While not a raucous storytime read-aloud, this quiet, thoughtful story provides plenty of room for discussion and action with both kids and adults. Younger children will enjoy finding all the different creatures throughout the story and the book would pair especially well with a nature walk or storywalk where students can look for trees in different stages of their life cycle. Recommended for libraries looking for stories with a focus on nature and natural life cycles, especially those who offer or support outdoor programming.

ISBN: 9781534496965; Published March 2024 by Margaret K. McElderry; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

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