________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 1 . . . . September 6, 2002

cover A Tree is Just a Tree?

Brenda Silsbe. Illustrated by Yayo.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2001.
32 pp., cloth, $17.95.
ISBN 1-894222-35-0.

Subject Headings:
Trees-Juvenile literature.
Picture books for children.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by L.M. Sykes.

*** /4


A tree...
...is just a tree?
Not to a hider
Not to a rider
Not to a runaway
Not to a holiday...

Written by author, Brenda Silsbe of Terrace, BC., A Tree is Just a Tree? is a poem which communicates her passion and respect for trees and forests. Although at first glance the poem seems very simple, (an average of four words per page) like most poems, the more one reads it, the richer in meaning it becomes. The verse is arranged in rhyming couplets, follows a pattern and is 23 lines long. Each line depicts a tree in a different role and from a unique perspective such as that of humans, animals, objects, etc. ( eg. chatterbox, dry socks, wood sprite, cold night) The rhyme lends itself to oral sharing with its quick rhythm and upbeat message; yet, to truly appreciate the book, one needs to be able to carefully examine the illustrations.

     Yayo, the illustrator of A Tree Is Just A Tree? has created a small but detailed painting to accompany each line of Silsbe's poem. In many cases, the tree becomes something else entirely (for example, a parachute, basketball net, boat or ice cream cone) to portray his unique interpretation of the verse. The illustrations present a variety of tree types during different seasons of the year, and some include animated figures as well. Yayo's paintings hold the reader's attention and tell their own story as many are paintings within paintings (eg. In the "cold night," the axe is actually a woman dressed in winter clothing with a long scarf). A few of the illustrations are confusing, such as "trip taker" and "old ways," as the young children to whom I read it could not easily connect the scene with a tree.

     In summary, this small book makes a statement about our dependence on and appreciation of trees and would enhance an Earth Day or Conservation theme as it is sure to promote discussion and awareness. If you're fond of trees, this is a book for you.


Lisa Sykes has worked as an early-years teacher and teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB, and is currently enjoying her time at home with her two young children.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364