30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2002
The Man Who Planted Trees is the tale of Elzeard Bouffier, a man who, after his son and wife die, spends his life reforesting miles of barren land in southern France. Bouffier's planting of thousands and thousands of trees results in many wondrous things occurring, including water again flowing in brooks that had been dry for many years. The brooks are fed by rains and snows that are conserved by the forest that Bouffier planted. The harsh, barren land is now pleasant and full of life.
Written by Jean Giono, this popular story of inspiration and hope was originally published in 1954 in Vogue as "The Man Who Planted Hope and Grew Happiness." The story's opening paragraph is as follows:
"For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled generosity, if it is absolutely certain that there is no thought of recompense and that, in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake."
The Man Who Planted Trees has left a "visible mark upon the earth" having been translated into several languages. In the "Afterword" of the Chelsea Green Publishing Company's edition, Norma L. Goodrich wrote that Giono donated his story. According to Goodrich, "Giono believed he left his mark on earth when he wrote Elzeard Bouffier's story because he gave it away for the good of others, heedless of payment: `It was one of my stories of which I am the proudest. It does not bring me in one single penny and that is why it has accomplished what it was written for.'"
This special edition is very informative. Not only does it contain Giono's inspirational story, which is complemented beautifully by Michael McCurdy's wood engraving illustrations and Goodrich's informative "Afterword" about Giono, but it also contains considerable information about how wood and paper can be conserved in the section "The WoodWise Consumer." Goodrich writes about Giono's effort to have people respect trees.
"Giono later wrote an American admirer of the tale that his purpose in creating Bouffier `was to make people love the tree, or more precisely, to make them love planting trees.' Within a few years the story of Elzeard Bouffier swept around the world and was translated into at least a dozen languages. It has long since inspired reforestation efforts, worldwide."
The Man Who Planted Trees is not only a wonderful story, it will inspire you and your children to care for the natural world.
-Reviewed by N. Glenn Perrett
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2004
In many readers' lives there are a few books, or maybe only one, which serve as touchstones. They define us like our most vivid memories do. Not many books or stories deserve that kind of devotion, but this one does. It isn't timeless - it's deeply rooted in 20th century France - but its honest treatment of the time and place is one of the things that makes it universal.
There are dozens of facets that could be highlighted in a review, but the one I find most compelling is Giono's treatment of a man alone and how he is yet connected to the world around him. Even a solitary figure can contribute to the birth and health of a community. It's not clear why he does his work, but it's clear that the work is good.
There is such hope here, but no easy palliative. It is a call to lifelong diligence in the service of something good, and important, and bigger than ourselves.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 1999
Jean Giono's inspiring story of the "man who planted trees" reached me some days ago as a birthday gift from my two sons.They thought it an appropriate gift for me probably because I am now engaged in an effort to grow trees in some land which I bought as a barren waste land. I found the book extremely inspiring.The interesting thing is that there indeed are unsung heroes and heroines in many parts of the world who do do such inspiring work without thought of reward.Some months back I read in Indian newspapers about a poor couple in the Karnatak state of India who decided to plant trees to assuage their sorrow in being childless.As they had no land of their own they decided to plant trees on the roadside.And ended up with magnificent avenue trees on miles and miles of the road near their village. There still seems to be hope for mankind!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I have had a copy of this book for over ten years, I loaned it to everyone I could. The last time I loaned it, it didn't come back. So, I bought the edition shown here. This has woodblock art in with it, beautiful work. I read the book every now and then because it is uplifting. The way Mr. Giono wrote it is so vivid, it's like you are there. It's actually a short story and takes about 20 - 30 minutes to read. But it has a high re-readability factor. Get this and share with your children, a friend who is down in the dumps, or buy one for the school library.
A re-assuring, peaceful, wonderful story with a simple, unforgettable message.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2008
Several years ago, I read The Man Who Planted Trees and enjoyed it so much that I passed it on to a friend to read. With the release of the 20th Anniversary Edition, I decided this was a book that had to be reread and added to my library as an all-time favorite. My second reading was enjoyed even more than the first. Perhaps the wisdom I have garnered between readings has come to a fuller fruition.
Jean Giono has created a marvelous character in Elzeard Bouffier, a man who found purpose in life by the planting of acorns that grew into magnificent trees. Since he never wandered far from his home, he was able to see the fruits of his labor and the complete revitalization of the landscape around him. It is no wonder that he seldom saw the need for talk. Seeing was both believing and self-fulfilling for him.
The wood engravings by Michael McCurdy add beauty and simple elegance to the story. The picture of Elzeard Bouffier is exactly as Jean Giono portrays him: a kind and gentle soul, filled with peace and contentment with the earth in which he planted and walked upon.
Although this is a book for the ages, for all ages, it finds special relevance for our time. Everyone can benefit from the reading of this little book.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2005
I think the publisher wrote the perfect review for this book. It is a book about planting seeds and the seeds of life and what can happen when we give in the most humane, natural way. When nature and the human spirit work as one. The illustrations are a beautiful compliment to the writer. It makes a perfect gift and will inspire those who read it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2007
One can read this book in less than an hour. That hour can be an exquisite calming experience, and one that talks about alternative ways of achieving satisfaction, while contributing to the place where he lives. It's not really a Johnny Appleseed book, even though it is about planting trees. Rather, it is about contributing to the health of the Earth, while contributing to the health of the individual.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2000
This is a simple, heartwarming and thoroughly uplifting story, narrated by Robert J. Lurtsema with incidental music provided by Paul Winter and his Consort. It tells of the overwhelmingly empowering effect that a single human being can have, through sheer dint of commitment.
The story, by Jean Giono, is simplicity itself. Over a period of three decades, Elzéard Bouffier, a Frenchman finding himself widowed and alone in a barren and desolate region of France, began to transform the area through the simple act of collecting and sorting acorns, and then planting one hundred of the most propitious-appearing acorns each day. It was a task of solitude and almost religious solemnity, taking place totally outside the view of others. Over time, Bouffier transformed the region, making it once again a hospitable place. Many years after the start of Bouffier's work, people - including foresters - marveled at what they "had missed," totally unaware that this was the life's work of a single human being.
Almost anyone could have narrated this simple tale of regeneration with effectiveness. That the task fell to Robert J. Lurtsema is pleasurable beyond measure to one who made it a habit, when he could, to listen to Lurtsema's PBS-syndicated program, "Morning Pro Musica." Robert J. was a polyglot in the best sense of the term, able to talk with authority on a wide range of topics. And now, in retrospect, I cannot picture anyone else telling this story with equal effect.
Recently, my wife and I were nearing the end of a five-hour car journey, and I played this album for her, since she had yet to hear it. She was transformed by the simple beauty of the tale, and by Robert J.'s incomparable narrative skills. As matters would have it, the timing of this event was eerily perfect yet totally unplanned: Elsewhere, at precisely the same hour, a memorial celebration of Robert J. was in process. And his collaborator and long-time friend Paul Winter was there, sharing his reminiscences of this remarkable man.
Robert J., this review's for you.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 1998
I became acquainted with this compelling and moving story through an animation festival. Although the crowd of college students had been rowdy this film was the last shown and people all left the theater hushed. The story is not only about a man who plants trees, it is about how each of us can make a difference in the world by every small action of love. If we do not attach a need for recognition or money to our endeavors, they feed the spirit and health of the world. I have read this book over & over and seen the animated film 4 or 5 times, and I see and learn something different every time. What do you see?
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2002
I heard about this book for the first time in 40 years at a dinner in my appartment in Guyana, south america. I had invited Mike, a South African friend, who mentioned this book, indicating that he loved it and that he read it every two months. I just recorded the name of this book in my memory. The next day, I found myself in a restaurant, in Georgetown, when a british friend, talking about some experience in the bush in Brazil, mentioned this same book. Intrigued, having heard about an unknown book two days in a row, I went on Amazon. com and looked for the book.
I was then surprised to find out that this was in fact a french book. Being french myself, I knew of Jean Giono but had never read anything from him.
This book is fabulous. In the same line as "Le Petit Prince" from St. Exupery or "Jonathan Livingstone, Seagull".
I have since bought five books of "The Man who planted trees" and offered it to friends. I am ordering today another 7.
"The Man Who Planted Trees" is exceptional by its simplicity. It talks about life and the importance to make a contribution in our life.
I would recommend this book to anyone. In the meantime, I continue to plant trees....