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Jan Thornhill
Toronto, Greey de Pencier Books, 1991. 32pp, cloth, $14.95
ISBN 0-920775-64-0. CIP

Grades 1 to 6/Ages 6 to 11

Reviewed by Hugh A. Cook

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

The tree in this book is just a plain, ordinary maple tree, but by the time one has concluded the book it has become a very special tree to the reader. We are first briefly introduced to the life of plants and animals in the forest as late autumn winds its way toward winter. A seedling from a mature maple lands on an old decaying log rotting on the forest floor. The following facing pages describe seasonal happenings and/or age changes of our tree. We see the tree mature, become a haven for a large variety of animal life and be subjected to the forces of nature. Our tree does remarkably well in the forest and lasts a total of 212 years. How do we know? We count the rings, of course.

Children should delight in finding the birds, mammals, insects, nesting sites and other items mentioned by the author. Of course there arc other ecological items that are not mentioned but are there for readers to locate on their own and thus make this a fascinat­ing book to look at over and over again. When finally the tree must succumb to its frailties and age it is with regret that we sec it lose its prominence in the forest. Yet even in death it becomes the source for the birth of new life. We see how it is transformed into rich humus so necessary for future forest growth.

This is an excellent book to introduce forest succession and the interdepend­ence of plant and animal life. It could also be used to help a student cope with the loss of an aged relative or family friend.

There is a maximum of a half page of writing and at least a half-page colour illustration per facing pages. As you look through the pages you see histori­cal changes as well, for the homes located near the forest go from nothing to pioneer to present day. There is plenty of material for a teacher to use in a group discussion and also for the individual reader to glean on his/her own.

Although the book appears Primary in format it could well be used in much higher grades. This book is similar to The Wildlife ABC which I reviewed previously; it has multiple uses at a variety of levels.

Hugh A. Cook, Maple, Ont.
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