Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Be a Tree! - 4.28.21

One more gorgeous book that celebrates nature and you for the month of April!   Did you ever know how much in common you have with trees?  Come along and learn in this comparison book of trees and you!

Be a Tree!
Be a Tree!
written by Maria Gianferrari
illustrated by Felicita Sala
published by Abrams Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary:
An illustrated look at the majesty of trees—and what humans can learn from them

Stand tall.
Stretch your branches to the sun.
Be a tree!

We are all like trees: our spines, trunks; our skin, bark; our hearts giving us strength and support, like heartwood. We are fueled by air and sun.
And, like humans, trees are social. They “talk” to spread information; they share food and resources. They shelter and take care of one another. They are stronger together.

My thoughts:
I cannot express enough how gorgeous this book is!  Felicita Sala's illustrations beautifully illustrate the magnificence of trees.  Maria lyrically explains the importance of trees, its many jobs, and how we may be more similar than we think!  From the main text to the important backmatter, it's a book readers will love and educators and librarians will want for their collection!

Teaching ideas:
  • be sure to note the compare and contrast structure of the book.  Can you find ways that people are similar or different to trees?
  • there are some fantastic metaphors in the story.  Make a list of favorites and talk about the way metaphors give readers additional visions of the writing.
  • community building - what are some ways that trees are valuable members of their communities?  How is it like humans?  Can we learn something from trees?

Maria has generously agreed to stop by and tell us more about this beautiful book.  Take it away, Maria!

We Can Be a Forest of Trees

Be a Tree!, a collaboration with illustrator Felicita Sala, invites readers to imagine themselves first as individual trees, and then as trees in a forest. I like to think of it as an extended metaphor of the ways that we are, and can be like trees. 

Felicita’s gorgeous and vibrant opening spread does just that—imploring readers to stand tall and stretch their branches to the sun! I love this spread’s warm, golden sun-kissed colors.

The book is a direct address to you, the reader, to imagine the ways you’re like a tree: you have arms, a tree has branches. You have a spine that supports you, a tree has a trunk. You have skin that protects you, a tree has bark for protection. 

This spread shows Felicita’s favorite tree, a ghost gum, tattooed like the old man, whose wrinkled skin resembles the tree’s bark. 

Next, the reader is asked to see beyond her/his/their individual self, and to see themselves as part of a forest, a “we” of trees—and to learn from them. 

Together, tree crowns in a forest, swing and straighten—they make space for each other to stand in the sun.

Together, forest trees are homes; “we” form microhabitats and sustain ecosystems.

But even more importantly, we can learn from the ways that they support each other. Single-species forests are more vulnerable to destruction from disease and insect damage, so are “immigrant” trees, away from their native habitats.

The strongest, healthiest, most resilient forests are those that are biodiverse, made up of many species of trees that work together—they talk, share resources, alert each other to dangers, all through a network of fungi, a “wood wide web.”

Together, we are stronger because of our differences. Let’s celebrate and appreciate that diversity, and remember that we must continue to work toward equity and justice for all in our forest families, schools, communities, countries.

Let’s plant seeds of kindness and compassion.

We are stronger.


That’s the way we can be forest trees.

Thanks, Michele, for featuring Be a Tree! 

And thanks to the generosity of Abrams Kids, we are giving away a copy of Be a Tree! (US addresses only—sorry!)

More about Maria:

Maria Gianferrari has climbed fig trees in Italy, stood under stately coastal redwoods and twisted Torrey pines, marveled at mitten-shaped sassafras leaves, colorful coral trees and sawtooth oak acorn nests. She lives with her family, including dog, Maple, in a house encircled by trees.

After seeing a peek of this beautiful book, I know you will want a copy!  Thank you to Maria and Abrams Kids!  A winner will be selected on May 5th.


  1. Thanks so much for allowing me to feature Be a Tree! today, Michele!

    Happy almost Arbor Day!!

  2. This book is gorgeous! I love Maria's books and can't wait to read this one too.

    1. Hello, dear friend!! Thanks so much for your support, Danielle!

  3. I love Maria’s books. I have several of them. Looking forward to this one too!

  4. Thanks,Stellaluna! I hope you will enjoy it 🌲💚🌳💚

  5. A wonderful book to celebrate Arbor Day and every day!

    1. Thanks, Roberta! Looking forward to reading your latest!