Review: Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree

Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree
by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Simona Mulazzani
Published by Chronicle Books (August 11, 2015)
Age 5-8

My Rating: 4 Stars

I recently started listening to a podcast called Let’s Get Busy, hosted by Matthew Winner, a school librarian who interviews kid lit authors and illustrators. Today, I decided to listen to the interview with Kate Messner about her most recent book, Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest TreeShe describes being on a research trip in Costa Rica where the idea for the book first sprouted. Her passion for life-long learning and wonder shine through in the interview, which made picking up a copy of her book a no-brainer for me.

Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree showcases the extraordinary ecosystem of the rainforest by examining the life supported by a single almendro tree. Through non-fiction descriptions of rainforest animals, picture book storytelling and math concepts, the book reveals the interconnectedness of species.

Colorful illustrations by Simona Mulazzani depict the complex life that surrounds and intertwines the tree. Each spread features a factual description of a rainforest creature that depends on the almendro tree, plus a short fictional-style description of the action taking place in the illustration. The most unique feature of the book is the visual representation of the number of animals that doubles each time you turn the page. You see 1 almendro tree housing 2 macaws, 4 toucans, 8 howler monkeys and so on, until the end when there are tiny dots of 1,204 leafcutter ants.

There’s a lot of learning that can happen from a book like Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree. It’s a fascinating introduction to ecology, biology and multiplication. The combined styles of writing and the variety of concepts that it covers make it a great choice for classroom libraries. Plus, after the story is told, there are math exercises and resources for getting involved with maintaining the rainforests.

What’s your favorite non-fiction picture book? Let me know in the comments section below.

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