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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!
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on October 5, 2002
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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on September 22, 2001
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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on July 28, 2001
The Great Kapok Tree is a beautifully illustrated story that effectively addresses the issue of endangered rain forests. While a woodcutter is taking a nap by a kapok tree, the animals of the forest try to persuade him not to cut down the tree. Even though the animals talk, their arguments are realistic. When the woodcutter wakes up, he looks at the beauty and wonder of the plants and animals. The illustrations ae vivid and colorful, and their beauty gives the message more meaning and importance. I highly recommend this book to be used wth children of all ages as a tool to teach the importance of rain forest conservation.
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on March 4, 2001
My kids age 7 and 5 absolutely love this book. It is the one we check out the most from the library and they have been asking for it to keep at home "always". The first time we read it, I made up different voices for each animal that spoke to the man and now my 7 year old can read most of it herself and she does the same to entertain her little brother. The pictures and colors are glorious and the story teaches a valuable lesson about saving the environment.
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on July 16, 2000
Dear Readers,
This book intrigues the imagination of children through the pictures and characters used within the story. The story is about how individuals need to respect others. It teaches children to be concerned about the world around them. Everyone needs to explore the world and strive to make it a better place in which to live.
Many lessons can be taught by using this book. Students could complete a writing assignment in which they write to organizations that are trying to save the rain forest. They could offer their suggestions on how we could go about this difficult task. Through discussion and exploration of the world around them children could learn how every living creature relies on the other for survival. A mini-lesson on feeling and emotions could be taught with the use of this book.
Students within my classroom have acted this story out by presenting a classroom play. They have written letters of concern about the destruction of the rain forest and its vast resources and animals. During the school year we have researched the products that are produced because of materials obtained from the rain forest and how they effect their own lives. The students within my classroom located several sources on the rain forest through the Internet, books, and magazines to enable them to develop a HyperStudio presentation about the rain forest. All of these projects and lessons involved cooperative learning, fun, and researching. Children need the opportunity to explore the world through a variety of methods. Life is what you make of it.
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VINE VOICEon July 24, 2005
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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on April 3, 2000
This book is a magnificient view of how the rainforest works together as a complex community, yet is made simple to bring that message to young children. The big book version is wonderfully filled with detailed pictures that children love to see. I recommend this book to any parent or teacher trying to teach environmental awareness to their children and students. It get the children excited to see what else is out in the world and try to do something before it vanishes, just as the animals tell the man the rainforest community will vanish if he chops down the Kapok Tree.
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on February 20, 2003
I like the color of the book and i like the story. I like the author of the book and the animal's of the story. There were some funny parts to the story and some sad ones too. I like the way the aninmals were talking. It kept me interested in the story. I reccommend this book because it is good.
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on March 9, 2016
What's not to love. This book has been around forever and is still timely. Beautifully illustrated and full of rich vocabulary that is a teacher's dream this book is a perfect intro into topics of all sorts: Rainforests, Green Living, Conservation, and how all living things are linked together. I used this book when I taught school 15 years ago and just bought another copy to read to my own children before a trip to the amazon rainforest in Peru. LOVE this book.
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