I got two review offers a couple weeks ago. I turned down the offer for Tucks Pads (I'm not sure what I would say about them....maybe I could have looked at the medicinal uses of witch hazel? Hemorrhoids in history?), but I happily accepted a free copy of The Busy Tree, written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Lisa Falkenstern.
My seven year old nature lover mostly picks chapter books for herself now, but luckily (for me, because I love them, too) she still enjoys picture books. She agreed to review The Busy Tree with me, to give everyone a kid's perspective.
Here's her comments:
"I like the cover.
It's really realistic! It shows underground! And it shows animals there."
Basically, she raved about the artwork and the progression of the story, and happily read the simple rhymes.
I enjoyed The Busy Tree a lot, too. It's nice to be able to give such a positive review to a book. The last free book I got I hated (but luckily only had to discuss in an online salon), and I was critical enough of Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports to enrage a few tween readers who couldn't stand seeing their favorite book series criticized. They were downright polite compared to Darla Shine's fans, though.
Anyway, The Busy Tree made me mourn the loss of the giant elm tree in our back yard, and long for a big old oak tree. The kind that takes about a hundred years to mature, unfortunately.
Like my daughter, I loved Falkenstern's illustrations, and all of the different aspects of the single tree that the authors brought forth for us.
When I first saw the cover, I was afraid the book was going to be too precious and and/or overly cute, but as my daughter pointed out, the cover is just a clever collection of many of the different creatures shown in the book. She noted that the moth there was probably the result of the bagworm cocoon pictured on one of her favorite pages. There's nothing terribly cute about bagworms, though they are definitely an interesting and common tree dweller. My son actually actually considered some of the bagworm caterpillars on our pin cherry tree as pets one year (then again, he also wanted to keep maggots as pets).
The graphics I found of the cover online were kind of dark, so I took the pictures here so you can get a better feel for the book. Which I happily recommend for kids and adults who like gorgeously illustrated picture books featuring realistic natural settings, or trees (especially oak trees), or who may be interested in the ecology of a single tree.