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The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest Paperback – March 13, 2000

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The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest + Nature's Green Umbrella (Mulberry books) + Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (March 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152026142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152026141
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 9.3 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

If a tree falls in the forest... someone or something will always be there to hear it. Many, many creatures will feel the effects when their source of sustenance and shelter falls to the earth. So when a man is sent into the Amazon rain forest one day, under instructions to chop down a great kapok tree, many eyes watch him nervously. It's not long before he grows tired, though, and the "heat and hum" of the rain forest lulls him to sleep. One by one, snakes, bees, monkeys, birds, frogs, and even a jaguar emerge from the jungle canopy to plead with the sleeping ax-man to spare their home. When the man awakens, startled at all the rare and marvelous animals surrounding him, he picks up his ax as if to begin chopping again, then drops it and walks away, presumably never to return.

Unfortunately, there's always someone else who is willing to take his place, but the message of this environmental book is plain: Save the rain forest! The story itself is not overly compelling, but each personalized entreaty from the animals provides an accurate and persuasive scientific argument for preserving nature's gifts. Lynne Cherry's fertile watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations, including a map of the tropical rain forests of the world, are vivid and colorful. A fine starting point for a discussion about conservation. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter

From Publishers Weekly

In this breathtakingly beautiful picture book, Cherry combines illustrations that reveal a naturalist's reverence for beauty with a mythlike story that explains the ecological importance of saving the rain forests. The text is not a didactic treatise, but a simply told story about a man who falls asleep while chopping down a kapok tree. The forest's inhabitants--snakes, butterflies, a jaguar, and finally a child--each whisper in his ear about the terrible consequences of living in "a world without trees" or beauty, about the interconnectedness of all living things. When the man awakens and sees all the extraordinary creatures around him, he leaves his ax and "walks out of the rain forest." A map showing the earth's endangered forests and the creatures that dwell within ends the book which, like the rain forests themselves, is "wondrous and rare." Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I used this book when teaching 2nd grade.
The Great Kapok Tree is a beautifully illustrated story that effectively addresses the issue of endangered rain forests.
My grandchildren love this story and all the beautiful pictures.
Raymond M Pina

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Maggie Wolfe Riley on July 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully illustrated fable of interdependence in the rain forest. As a teacher, I use this story to teach about ecosystems here at home. Even though it is appropriate for younger children, I read it to my outdoor school students (5th-6th grade) on the day we study ecosystems to help them understand the inter-relationships we see and study in the field. I like to bring the story to life by giving the animals special voices (lots of hissssing for the snake, chattering for the monkeys, squawking for the birds, etc.) At first the students laugh and are amused by the voices, but when the tree frogs talk about ruined lives and being left homeless, they begin to get more serious, and by the time the sloth asks "How much is beauty worth? Can you live without it?" they are fully engrossed. After reading the story, I send the students out to find a "magic spot" to do a writing assignment: write their own story of "The Great ______" substituting a plant they have learned about during their week at outdoor school for Kapok Tree.
The only thing I don't like about this story is that students, in their black and white morality, sometimes only take home the message that "it's bad to cut down trees." I like the book "The Gift of the Tree" because it doesn't have this morality tale aspect, and "Just a Dream," because it places responsibility on each of our shoulders, not just "someone" like the tree cutter in this story. But I use this story in conjunction with those others and discuss this issue with the students. This is definitely a classic in Children's Environmental Literature!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Samanthia Noble on September 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
My son and I love this book. We received it as a prize at an Earth Day celebration and have gotten a lot of use out of it. I love the beautiful pictures and my son loves it when I make up voices for each of the animals. I feel good about reading this book to him, because the message is clear. We live on a planet with many cultures and many other living creatures. We should respect that. I have gone out to check out other books by Lynne Cherry and love them all. But The Great Kapok Tree remains my favorite.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By booknblueslady on October 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Beautiful, wild places inspire and I love to introduce this concept to young children who are so very sensitive to the beauty around them. Children love to produce images of a world butterflies, rainbows and flowers. Lynne Cherry uses this love to capture and intrigue children in her book about The Great Kapok Tree set in the heart of the Amazon rain forest.
Ms Cherry is an author and illustrator of children's books who has a sensitivity for ecological issues. In The Great Kapok Tree she presents a jungle teaming with life. A man tires as he begins cutting the great tree down with an ax. He tires and sleeps. While he sleeps the animals come out of the rain forest to give him a lesson about the importance of the tree. Snakes, monkeys, butterflies, parrots, toucans, frogs jaguars and sloths all give him a pitch. Each tree is important in the rain forest.
Lynne Cherry's illustrations are gorgeous, green and so alive. Her inspiration was the Amazon rain forest which she traveled to and sketch while researching this book. Each page impresses the reader with the lushness and beauty of the region.
While it may seem that the concept of ecology is a bit sophisticated for a four year old it is important to remember that our early values shape our lives. It is my hope that the children of today will have of deep love of nature that will inspire them to take the necessary care of the earth ion their future.
This book is a wonderful gift to a child. I have read it to children numerous times and they are always mesmerized by it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By waldorf_curric VINE VOICE on July 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book has been extensively reviewed and smothered in praise; I agree that it is a wonderful introduction to many topics. It can be used by teachers and homeschooling families to discuss the different sections of the rain forest canopy and the animals which inhabit it, camouflage (the jaguar), erosion and other effects of deforestation, the native peoples of the rain forest, the role of trees in producing oxygen, the concept of habitat, the concept of pollination, predators and prey, and the idea that our actions have an impact on all generations which succeed us. This can be tied in to a study of restructuring urban development to avoid sprawl, or the political debate over economic growth versus preservation of natural resources. New research is coming out about potentially valuable medications that can be made from engangered species which inhabit the rain forest; have your child analyze what might be gained versus what might be lost if we destroy this habitat. Discuss the depletion of the ozone layer. Although we don't know whether the tree was to be cut down to make way for development, to be used as lumber, or to make paper products, you can use this book to introduce the very real impact of recycling. Purchase some Seventh Generation paper products and read the quote from The Great Law of The Iroquois Confederacy:

"In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations."

The story of The Great Kapok Tree can be tied in with a social studies or science curriculum at nearly every grade level. Regardless of your child's age, don't hesitate to purchase this book.
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