Thursday, 5 November 2020

Tree Beings


Tree Beings
by Raymond Huber and Sandra Severgnini (EK Books) HB RRP $34.99 ISBN 781925820539

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

‘I hope that many children all over the world will read Tree Beings and understand the importance of trees’ says Jane Goodall, the world-renowned anthropologist, in a foreword to this heavy-duty, outstanding book which will survive many readings by children aged 7 to 12 years. The purpose of Tree Beings is to inspire kids to fall in love with the natural world and act to protect trees which the author (and many other experts) says are our best allies in fighting climate change.

The book’s cover, with animals (including man) cleverly disguised in the limbs and leaves of a tree, the fly pages beautifully decorated with swirling tree limbs and leaves (and birds), and the title page with locusts on the bark of a tree, are a wonderful introduction to Tree Beings. In fact, the illustrations in this book are simply gorgeous! Sandra Severgnini has made the text come alive with her amazing artistic talents.

There are four big ideas in Tree Beings: that trees give life to the planet, that they help fight climate change, that they are like beings and that they need our help and protection. Many people have contributed to this wonderful book from professors to PhD scholars to a woman (Julia Butterfly Hill) who lived for two years in a tree! Reading this book children will learn that forests are one of the most important ecosystems on Earth, providing us with clean water and air, removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and breathing out oxygen (O2).

Visually, this book is stunning, from its portrayal of trees, insects, animals, fruits, people, and much more. Every chapter displays a double-page spread which can only be described as ‘lush’. They illustrate stories such as that by Professor Wangari Maathai, described as ‘Mother of the Trees’ who stood up to violent government forces in her work to plant millions of trees. Another person highlighted in the book is young Australian Tony Rinaudo whose work in Niger Africa has seen over 200 million trees regrown from stumps. But for a child reader the most inspirational story must be that of nine-year-old German boy Felix Finkeiner who has a plan to plant a trillion trees to fight climate change and is steadily accomplishing his task.

If a reader wants to know about the Green Belt Movement, he/she can check out www.greenbeltmovement.org There are numerous other websites in the book for young readers to research that tell of tree activists throughout the world. If they want to help preserve trees, there’s a list of ways in which they can help reforest the world, recycle paper and wood products, and more. There is also a glossary of science words, a page of references, puzzles and mazes and an index. Finally, the final fly pages depict a cross-section of a tree’s roots.

It’s unlikely there’s a better book on trees for young readers than Tree Beings, thus it is highly recommended.

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come. A Chinese proverb.

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