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LITTLE SAP by Jan Hughes


The Magical Story of a Forest Family

by Jan Hughes ; illustrated by Ruth Hengeveld

Pub Date: March 23rd, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-951836-06-1
Publisher: Cameron + Company

The titular tree’s biography is the platform for teaching young children little gems of current science about tree behavior and the recently coined wood wide web.

The story is composed of double-page spreads with attractive, detailed watercolor art in hues ranging from deep forest tones to subtle pastels. The lyrical, comforting text is perfect for an adult or intermediate reader to read aloud. From the start, most little ones will empathize with Little Sap in her impatience to grow up. There is a fairy-tale cadence to the text as readers learn that the sapling “lives with her family deep in the heart of a very old forest” and “near Mother Tree, the tallest and wisest tree in the grove.” As each season progresses, both text and art reveal facts about tree growth and the forest interconnections that can seem magical. In spring, Little Sap’s new leaves emerge. Summer first shows the canopy from her vantage point; the next spread shows the fungal network helping to feed her. As summer continues, a procession of snails emphasizes the slow growth of trees; Little Sap’s mother whispers encouraging words that easily parallel advice to children; Mother Tree uses fragrant powers to scare off threatening bugs. After fall and winter, the text gently suggests the passing of many springs, and the final illustration replicates this.

A sweet introduction for blossoming naturalists.

(endnotes, glossary, sources) (Informational picture book. 3-6)