I am excited to join Alyson Beecher and other friends in this weekly challenge. Finding great nonfiction picture books isn't a challenge anymore, there are so many wonderful books to be read now! The challenge is sharing them with as many people as possible so they can find this wealth of literature to share with our young readers. Thanks to Aly for starting this weekly link-up and thanks to all who join in! See all of the posts at kidlitfrenzy.
Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree
By Kate Messner
Illustrated by Simona Mulazzani
Published by Chronicle Books
Today I am celebrating Kate Messner's newest book, Tree of Wonder. It celebrated its book birthday last Tuesday.
I remember reading a post that Kate had written saying she had actually written this book years ago, it had taken that long to have the illustrations made... and maybe other delays, not sure! I think it was worth the wait because the illustrations are beautiful. They capture the bright colors of a rainforest. Simona Mulazzani's talent shines in each gorgeously illustrated picture, spotlighting an animal living and growing on this one tree in the rainforest. The acrylic and pencil illustrations are just one of the things that stand out in this book.
When I read this book, I immediately thought what a wonderful STEM mentor text! The book is ultimately about the life of a tree in the rainforest and the animals that live in the tree. The circle of life is spotlighted in the way the animals help spread the seeds of the tree to keep new trees growing. Each page shines on a different animal that lives in the almendro tree of a Costa Rican rainforest. Each page has 2 parts of information. One is in a narrative section that gives information using descriptive and flowing words. The other part is written in a more informative way - giving more background and scientific information. I'm glad that was in there, because after looking at the illustrations and the narrative part, I almost always had questions that I needed answered! This book really takes a look at the way one small ecosystem - a very important tree in the rainforest - becomes home and food for many animals.
But then comes the math part of the book! As each animal is introduced, it's a multiple of the animal before. As it continues to multiply, the numbers grow larger and larger to really help the reader understand the magnitude of animals that live and survive by this tree. Messner includes additional math problems in the end notes, each problem growing increasingly harder. The reader knows the intensity of the problem based upon the number of howler monkeys next to it!
At the end, Messner writes about the importance of the tree to the Costa Rican rainforest. Listed are a few groups that help with the conservation of the tree and those creatures that depend on it for survival. Additional sources are mentioned, including a video documentary.
I think the bright colors of the book will pull in many readers. They will be intrigued by the different animals and then find a whole new level of the book when they see the math! I highly recommend this book for your classroom or school library!