Sean Burgess reviews We Planted A Tree ($17.99, Random House Children’s Books, Ages 5-8 )

weplantedatreeI try not to judge a book by its cover, but you can’t help it when you check out We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow. The title is centered and planted firmly in the leaves of the modernized, cartoon-style tree. And at the roots, two families, one from possibly the USA, the other from somewhere in Africa, all lined up and proudly admiring the result of their awesome arborous accomplishment. I knew right away this was going to be a special read. I got the sense that a connection was about to be made. Definitely, the essential bond between people and plants, fixed in our duty to conserve.

Dr. Wangari Maathi, a 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate is quoted on the first page saying, “When we plant tress, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope.” We plant the seeds of trees, just as we plant the seeds for a family. And like planting a tree, we get the chance to see the majestic growth and changes through years and years of nurture. The simple text by Diane Muldrow, outlined through a little science, is cheerfully and amazingly complemented by the illustrations of Bob Staake. I love reading books to my daughter Teagan and weplantedatreeteaI’m always amazed at how well illustrators enhance the stories. But in the case of We Planted a Tree, I think Bob Staake has artfully expanded the who, what, where and why the trees are being planted. On each page, there were plenty of details Teagan and I could talk about. I think she is already getting a sense of how important tress are to the world’s existence both scientifically and aesthetically. We Planted a Tree takes us on a journey around the world and shares how all families, from any country, can work together to plant and preserve
our botanical buddies.

This was one of the few children’s books that I have sat down to look over all by myself after reading with Teagan. I had to do a little more research about this book and its creators. One great fact I discovered was that We Planted a Tree was inspired by the work done by Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, and its message celebrates nature, growth, and the power of community effort.

Whether it’s Earth Day or Arbor Day, I think any day is a good day to think about our impact and imprint on society and our eco-system. Trees sustain and withstand the passage of time. We only hope the same for our families for generations to come. I wish the book was printed on recycled paper but I do thank Diane and Bob, for a wonderful book that has renewed the sense of how important it is for my family to contribute to cleaning, conserving and saving our Earth.

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