Before We Stood Tall: From Small Seed to Mighty Tree

Kids Can. Sept. 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781525303241.
PreS-Gr 1–The life cycle of a tree is highlighted in this simple nonfiction title filled with lovely illustrations. Minimal text shows trees of many shapes, sizes, and species. However, the tree life cycle is not described in the usual seed-to-tree sequence. The adult tree tells readers about how it gives back to the earth with its seeds. It describes its leaves, branches, and bark, and the images show children and their dog examining tree rings that illuminate the tree’s age. Readers are then transported with the seed underground. While detailed, earthy illustrations help kids see animals above and below ground, it will be difficult for kids to make out the sprouting seed. A bird grabbing a worm, two foxes in their burrow, and lots of rocks and soil are featured, obstructing the view of the seedling. Children will eventually be able to make out the words “out, out, out...POP!” and see a very small sprout. The lyrical text complements the realistic images but provide little for those studying the life cycle. The author’s note features a dense description of recent developments in tree communication and connection, tree layers, and the odds for seeds successfully reproducing.
VERDICT Gentle text and realistic illustrations will help young children recognize details of trees and animals in hardwood forests, but students will find little to support their research.

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