Leafy Landmarks: Travels with Trees

Sleeping Bear. Mar. 2024. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534112872.
Gr 3-7–In this engaging and creative introduction to poetry, Schaub weaves geography, botany, and history throughout the narrative of a family’s road trip to historical trees in the United States. Tree leaves flood the endpapers with poetry types and descriptions highlighted on the family’s journey. Lambelet’s digital art carefully layers the leaves, authentically providing texture and warmth, and the selection of fonts to identify tree species and landmarks suits each spread. “Hit the Road,” a quatrain, introduces the leafy adventure with a fantastic map of all the stops and provides opportunities for cross-curricular discovery. Each tree stop includes a poem with its listed form, the location and species of the tree, and a paragraph of information about why the tree is significant. California’s General Sherman, Nebraska’s Arbor Day Oak, Oklahoma City’s Survivor Tree, and the cherry trees of Washington, D.C., are some of the stops. Petrified Forest in Arizona is a study of contrasts and beauty, evoking the past and present through art and prose. Literary devices and forms are varied and the art provides further depth. “The Emancipation Tree” is the only piece that lacks consistency in word choice and framing. Its nonet poem, “Shady Haven,” discusses that people were “Slaves no more./ Hopeful./ Free.” In the informational text for this tree, it uses “enslaved African Americans” and “slaves.” It is an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise impressive book. The family of four is interracial; the father is a man of color, and the mother is light-skinned.
VERDICT Recommended for poetry collections, although it is best suited for guided reading.

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