Top critical review
14 of 14 people found this helpful
Inaccurate and incomplete
on October 13, 2014
I was very hopeful when I found this book, that it would answer this great question and teach science along the way.
>It covers some good information about change of season, shorter days, cooler temps, and how this makes trees go dormant. It very briefly introduces the word chlorophyll with one (barely recognizable) cross-section diagram of a leaf.
>The illustrations are lovely, and come with descriptions of different types of leaves for different trees.
>Concepts aren't presented in very interesting manner, they are either quickly glossed over or are spread out with lots of descriptors about trees and colors over several pages (ie. repetitive, fluff, boring, sleep-inducing).
>Would have liked a more complete description of photosynthesis, with picture showing the components needed such as sunlight, chlorophyll, and how it literally means converting light into energy.
>They mention that sunny days paired with cool nights brings on the most colorful displays, but they don't say why that is (the vein of the leaves close in the cold, preventing movement of sugars out of the leaf, etc).
>Why should a tree lose it's leaf? Not only for lack of sunlight, but what about effect of freezing temperature, increase risk of damage in storms and snow. Compared to pine needles (which they do mention briefly in one paragraph) which are shaped to retain moisture, and let snow fall past so as not to cause damage.
>Most importantly, the text leaves out (no pun intended) the answer to crux of the question, why all the colors? If you pick a leaf or branch full of leaves off a tree in spring or summer, the leaves will dry up and turn brown. Why in the fall do they turn brilliant colors instead? Their explanation of green chlorophyll breaking down to leave the other pigments behind, isn't accurate or complete explanation of the true process (which should include the tree gradually pulling back on water minerals entering as well as gradually turning off production of chlorophyll). All they say is that it's breakdown of chlorophyll revealing underlying pigments which were there all along.
>Also, the very cool fact that trees will "push off" their leaves in the fall, that is an active not passive process, is absent from this book (notable exception is the oak tree which doesn't lose it's leaves, they dry up and stay on the tree all winter long).
Would love to see an updated book to better address what should be a lively and interesting scientific topic. If anyone has suggestions, please share. If not, please someone write a new book. Children do need simplified and well-illustrated version of books for their enjoyment, but doesn't mean they can enjoy true explanations in some amount of depth!