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Strange Trees: And the Stories Behind Them Hardcover – April 5, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Young dendrologists may appreciate the way each of the unusual trees featured in this book talk directly to readers. The rainbow tree (Mindanao gum tree) talks about its bark of many colors, while the ghost tree (Davidia) delights in the idea that nighttime passersby will be spooked by its special leaves, bracts, which resemble ghosts. The comments made by the anthropomorphized trees are playful; they often employ puns. The illustration style slightly varies from tree to tree, but each depicts people and critters conducting activities around the base of the tree. The artist's inclusion of a Native American man with a headdress and tomahawk, for the giant sequoia spread, is surprising and questionable. VERDICT The art and the trees' self-descriptions are just a bit too brief but may inspire a curious child to conduct further research.—Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID
“In Strange Trees and the Stories Behind Them, author Bernadette Pourquie and illustrator Cecile Gambini choreograph an illustrated tour of the world’s greatest arboreal wonders, from species that have witnessed the dinosaurs roam this Earth to exotic marvels like Brazil’s ‘Walking Tree’ (Red Mangrove) and the Philippines’ ‘Rainbow Tree’ (Mindanao gum tree)…. Alongside each imaginative illustration, partway between botany and fairy tale, is a one-page autobiography of the respective tree, describing its natural and cultural habitat in a short first-person story fusing curious science facts, history, and local customs.” —Brain Pickings
“Charmingly illustrated…. Each woody marvel is described in a separate two-page, colorfully bordered spread, with facts given on the left, and a dreamy, folk-style painting opposite.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A delightful picture book for children 6 and up. But tree-hugging adults will love it, too.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Unusual trees personally enlighten readers about their unique features, share stories about myths they have inspired, and discuss some of the animals and people they have encountered.… The illustrations are charming and the stories and details about the trees are fascinating—some explode, others can be a source of French fries.” —Natural History Magazine
“The chewing gum tree, the upside-down tree, and the rainbow tree sound like fictional botanicals straight out of a children’s tale, but they are just three of the very real types of odd trees found in this vividly rendered book…. Through beautiful images and concise descriptions, these 16 unusual species provide fodder for a high-interest read.” —Booklist Online
“The book provides the best kind of learning—the kind that happens without the learner realizing it, the kind that gives the reader a thrill of discovering something novel.… Artist Cécile Gambini’s illustrations alone make this book a worthwhile purchase. They are perfect: charming and colorful with accuracy and a little bit of mystery that keeps you looking.” —Tropical Garden Magazine
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