Zee Grows a Tree

Candlewick. Mar. 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763697549.
K-Gr 3–On the day that Zee was born, a Douglas-fir seedling planted on her parents’ Christmas tree farm began growing. As Zee grew up and developed, so did the tree. This beautifully designed picture book follows their development, showing readers how Zee and the tree changed and grew over time. For example, when Zee started kindergarten, she adopted a new fashion style. In turn, she shaped the tree and pruned its top and sides the way tree farmers do. When Zee was in the second grade, she lost three teeth. At this time, the tree sprouted new buds at the top and started growing branches. Two levels of text move the narrative along—larger-size font details the story of the girl and the tree and smaller-sized font provides additional information about Douglas-firs. Readers learn about dormancy, how trees keep from freezing in the winter, how farmers can add nutrients to the soil, and that an uncut Douglas-fir can live for hundreds of years and grow more than 300 feet tall. At the same time, the unfolding family story is subtly told through words and illustrations. At the end of the story, readers learn that the tree is ready to become a “holiday tree.” The illustrations show that the tree has not been cut down. Instead, Zee has decorated it outside.
VERDICT This title is a brilliant combination of storytelling and factual information. The narrative celebrates a caring family and a young girl’s growing love of nature. The information adds to readers’ understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Highly recommended.

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