Top positive review
37 people found this helpful
Children's Environmental Literature Classic
on July 5, 2000
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!