Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Reed-Jones, Carol. The Tree in the Ancient Forest. Illus. Christopher Canyon. Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications, 1995. ISBN: 1-883220-31-9. Author recommends this for ages 4-10.

A nature awareness book, this richly colored picture book is written in the literary form of cumulative verse. This form is best known from the verse The House that Jack Built. By using this form, the author emphasizes the theme of interdependence in an ancient forest. Reed-Jones is also a music teacher and she uses rhythmic, repetitive verse, and word cadence to engage readers in the vocabulary and overall theme of interdependence in the book.

Throughout the pages readers repeat phrases about the 300-year-old tree that grows there, and the other life in the ancient forest. A squirrel, a marten, underground truffles, voles and mice and an owl are all characters.

Illustrations done in acrylic include deep greens, blues, browns and oranges. The perspective of the images is complex and holds readers’ visual interest. Paintings are of the tree above ground as well as from underground so that soil layers, roots, and habitat of underground animals is visible and detailed, and alternates from this to depictions of habitats of animals that live in the treetops and on the forest floor.

At the back of the book is a list of entries for the animals and plants mentioned in the book. These entries include information about habitat, diet, size and other simple scientific background descriptions. Also included at the back of the book is information about the importance of the ancient forest and descriptive information about its characteristics.

With the re-emergence of the importance of high quality, literary informational texts in schools across the country, this title is a welcome addition to a read aloud classroom collection, especially for lessons about science.

Reviewed by Linda Salem

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