The Book of Amazing Trees
“Interaction is the key to learning and The Book of Amazing Trees packs in so many opportunities, section after section, to spark curiosity and inspiration. . . . the material is approachable with clever design surprises on every page.”
The Book of Amazing Trees is exactly what it says it is: a book about trees, geared for 8–12 year olds. With facts, challenges, and life-like illustrations, this entry into the great wide world of these amazing “champions of adaptation” is thoroughly engaging. (Curious surprise to learn that Tordjman, Simler, and Norwood are all in Paris and this book was originally published in French. One would never know it; the translation is seamless.)
The Book of Amazing Trees is organized into five sections: Introducing the Trees, How Does a Tree Grow, The Birth of a Tree, The Powers of Trees, and Magnificent Trees. Within each section (except for Magnificent Trees) are trivia quizzes, hide-and-seek drawings that they refer to as “My Observatory,” a deep dive into a particular aspect that they call “Big Zoom,” and “Under the Magnifying Glass” topics. Some sections have a “Little Workshop” activity as well.
A close-up look at one section, The Birth of a Tree, starts with seeds. An anatomical drawing of a seed includes scientific terms like embryo, cotyledons, and other labels. Seed germination likewise has drawings with distinctions between deciduous and coniferous processes. The Under a Magnifying Glass topic illustrates how seeds germinate far from the tree that produced them via wind, falling, floating, or hitchhiking in/on birds and animals, each with its own illustration.
Also in The Birth of a Tree is a second Under a Magnifying Glass topic discussing trees with two different sexes focusing specifically on Hollies. The Little Workshop designs an experiment to grow a seed from horse chestnut, maple seeds, or acorns. Big Zoom covers the life of a tree from birth to old age with drawings and short descriptions of the stages. My Observatory illustrates an orchard teeming with the trees and animals that one might find there. The reader is asked to identify certain aspects within the orchard such as, “Which tree is pruned to spread horizontally?” A highlighted image of pear flowers guides the reader to the Pear tree growing on a brick wall along the edge of the orchard.
Magnificent Trees, however, is a fabulous section. It differs in style and structure from the others, but with great effect. Tree diversity is at its finest starting with Record Breaking Trees. Evergreen Sequoia: the biggest tree in the world at 375 feet. Jackfruit: the biggest fruit weighing 55 pounds. Magnolia: the biggest flowers up to eight inches in diameter. Baobab: the biggest trunk with an 80-foot circumference. Banyan: the most branches that can cover an area up to 2.5 acres. There are also Cork Oak, Ginkgo Biloba, King’s Holly, and Welwitschia—and that’s just on one page.
The remaining pages of this section illustrate the wide range of deciduous trees, evergreen trees, ornamental trees, and surprising trees (Mangrove, Mimosa, Tree of Heaven, Araucaria Araucana—the monkey puzzle tree, etc.) all with distinguishing illustrations.
Interaction is the key to learning and The Book of Amazing Trees packs in so many opportunities, section after section, to spark curiosity and inspiration. From cover to cover the material is approachable with clever design surprises on every page. The drawings work well and give it the authenticity of a well-loved field journal offering the potential to inspire future botanists.