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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Green Earth

Life on earth as we know it today is quite unimaginable without those luscious green plants all around us - the only living things that take the brilliance of our star, the sun, and convert it to energy and in turn fuel the rest of us who co-habit the earth.

In celebration of these hardy and amazing life form that not only can make their own food, but share it with us, and give off much-needed oxygen for our existence, we enjoyed reading a few books that inspired awe and wonder in us.

Celebritrees : Historic & Famous Trees of the World
by Margi Preus
illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon

Trees are the oldest, biggest, and tallest living organisms on earth, says this book that celebrates trees in a novel way. Fourteen of the most beloved trees that have earned a name for themselves are showcased in this non-fiction volume.

From Methuselah (Bristlecone Pine) in California to The Tule Tree (Montezuma Cypress) in Mexico, to The Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa) in Sri Lanka where Buddha is believed to have gained enlightenment to The Chapel Oak (Chene-Chapelle Oak) in France, trees as old as 4800 years to as young as 50 years are presented, one per page.

And to safeguard them, the exact location is not disclosed, and only illustrations of them accompany the book, no photographs. The Tree of One Hundred Horses, a Chestnut in Sicily is considered to be the thickest tree ever known, which has now split into three sections and yet is still alive. And how did it get its fancy name?  When the Queen of Aragon went sight-seeing to Mount Etna, a rainstorm made them take shelter; the queen and her one hundered horsemen all found shelter under the wide branches of this benevolent tree.

We read not only that they are tallest or oldest or widest, but that they have a story of their own, things they have seen and done just by being themselves, witnessing history unfolding.

More About The Trees section at the back of the book provide further information about each kind of tree in the book, like the Oak, Cypress, Giant Sequoia and Baobab among others.

What Can We Do To Help Grow Celebritrees section gives some ideas on how we can help trees.

Incidentally, Redwoods by Jason Chin (reviewed here at Saffron Tree) is another interesting book we read a couple of years ago.


Trout Are Made of Trees
by April Pulley Sayre
illustrated by Kate Endle

April Pulley Sayre's books are a favorite, like Meet the Howlers and Honk, Honk Goose.

In Trouts Are Made of Trees, we learn how we are all part of one whole circle, all thanks to trees. Trees who let go of their leaves in autumn. Leaves that fall into a nearby stream and settle down to let algae grow on them. Algae that are eaten by the caddisflies, and shrimp, which are in turn eaten by the bigger predators and finally by trout.

Trout are made of trees. 
So are the bears
and the people
who catch the trout and eat them.


The Gift of the Tree
by Alvin Tresselt
illustrated by Henri Sorensen

A great oak tree lived in a forest for over a 100 years, providing home, shelter, food and shade.

As the years went by termites and rot set in, making the tree weaker. Winter storms tore off the branches one by one until only the trunk remained. With hurricane and slashing rain, only a stump marked its once proud existence.

Even then the tree didn't give up. Deer mice family, rabbits, dormant grubs and fungus  found shelter from the harsh winter, awaiting warmer spring. Woodpecker, chipmunks, raccoons lived with their families in the hollow trunk that had fallen down.

However the tree lived on through the acorns it had dropped years ago which have now taken root even as the great oak tree returns to the earth to rest.

The illustrations are evocative and gorgeous, capturing the vagaries of nature with the bright lush greens of spring and summer to the orange browns of autumn to the cold gray whites of winter. [Browse Inside at HarperCollins.]

[image sources: books.google.com, amazon.com, betterworldbooks.com]

[cross posted at Saffron Tree CROCUS2011]

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