Customer Review

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Create Tree Envy by Planting One!, April 11, 2001
This review is from: A Tree Is Nice (Hardcover)
The best early readers are those that focus on a subject that a child can easily understand, use simple words, and have illustrations that perfectly capture the words. A Tree Is Nice easily passes those tests. The book is a Caldecott medal winner for its illustrations.
The book explores all of the many benefits that trees bring us. They "fill up the sky," and "make everything beautiful." "Even if you have just one tree, it is nice too." The book goes on to describe the beauty of leaves, the fun of playing in them, and even bonfires with them in the fall when they are at their most beautiful. You can climb the tree, lean things up against the tree, enjoy the shade, be protected from winds, use the sticks for drawing in the sand, and hang swings and flower baskets in the branches. Trees make perfect backgrounds for picnics, too.
My favorite part of the book is the section about planting a tree. Ms. Udry points out that you can put a tree in, and watch it grow. Then you can tell others that you planted it, and they will want to plant one, too. I remember planting some trees as a cub scout, and revisiting them as a middle-aged man and taking great delight in seeing them become a large, leafy oasis in what had been a barren field.
The illustrations are terrific. The book's designer has created a vertically elongated page shape that accentuates the graceful trunks of trees. Half of the illustrations are in color (using watercolors with inked outlines and details) and half in black-and-white. The choices for full color are good ones (fall leaves, being next to a house, and with a picnic). The pen and ink ones with grey washes are very poetic in their simplicity. The design also minimizes the words, which appear almost like a memorial plaque at the base of a tree in an arboretum. The style is very reminiscent of the best simple drawings of the fifties, and provide a nostalgic feeling.
In addition to reading this book to your child, and having your chld read this book to you, you each must plant a tree!
Where else does nature provide well for us, where you can help nature along a little? Perhaps you should consider a bird feeder or bird bath (if you have a yard).
Enjoy the natural sculpture and art all around you!
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