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IF THIS OLD TREE COULD TALK TO ME!

Author: Jancy Morgan

Illustrator: Tom Dunn

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Publisher: Leathers Publishing,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Once a seed, then a sapling and now a mighty tree, this Osage Orange tree has seen it all from its place in northeast Kansas. From the colonists who headed west to merchants, from sunny days to stormy ones, this tree has stories about it has offered all that it had to those who passed beneath its branches. This is an illustrated poem that offers a tree's perspective of US history.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, easy reader, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 8 to 10

Interest Level: 5 to 9

Age of Child: Read with nearly 7-year-old child.

Young Reader Reaction: Our child lost interest about half-way through the book. She likes to follow along as we read, and kept asking us to point out basic words (like "and"), because she couldn't find them on the page. She liked talking about the pictures, but wasn't interested in the story.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is wonderful concept, but the book is very hard to read. Sometimes you read first the left page, then the right; on others you read across both pages to get the verse. You just never know when it's going to change, and it is very frustrating. The illustrations are beautiful and add lots of interest. They would be even more enjoyable without the heavy, stylized text weaving on the pages and covering up much of the art.

Pros: This poem offers a clever way to introduce US history, as people branched out from the colonies and made the trek west.

Cons: The text, as presented, takes away from the story. It weaves itself on and across pages, the size changes and so does the style. Although the vocabulary is suited for an early elementary-aged reader, the text style could frustrate them.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. The illustrations are beautiful, and the poem is one kids can appreciate.

If You Liked This Book, Try: AUNT GUSSIE AND GRANDFATHER TREE   A RIVER RAN WILD: An Environmental History   WHAT A MOTHER WOULD DO

Educational Themes: There are details in the poem's verse that artfully describe several layers of change in the United States: the westward movement, advances in transportation, changes in communication, mercantile trade, and population growth to name a few. The story offers an example of how we 'personalize' inanimate objects. You can do the same: take a trip to the park and find an object. Then do some research about the area to build a history that the object can talk about.

Notes: Flesh Kincaid reading level 3.0 [Note: the lines were changed from stanza to paragraph to get a readability level.]

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, poetry

Date(s) Reviewed: June 2008

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