The titular exhortation is explained and expounded upon in spare free verse that teaches both well-established facts about trees and new revelations about their interlinked, supportive communities.

Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees (2016) has claimed yet another enthusiast among picture-book creators. This book has the advantage of lyrical, accessible poetry and vibrant watercolors from an ever changing palette. The book consists almost entirely of double-page spreads, and each page turn but one yields images of trees or parts of trees—and many show gloriously diverse children and adults enjoying their time with, under, and among equally varied kinds of trees. The initial spread repeats the book’s title on the verso as it adds on the recto: “Stand tall. / Stretch your branches to the sun.” The baobab trees that span the book’s gutter shade a small child of color, happily reaching out to the sky. The text continues to advise its readers to be trees as its metaphors become increasingly complex. One imaginative spread shows an abstraction of a tree’s pith, contrasted with a simple, representational illustration of the human circulatory system. After basic anatomy has been covered, spreads on the wonders of the sustaining “wood wide web” and the urgency of biodiversity segue cleverly into the necessity of humans gathering in community. The ending exhortation would seem sappy under less professional handling, but instead it is a proper conclusion to an argument grounded in facts and heartfelt artwork. The backmatter, including tips on saving trees and engaging in community, is excellent, too. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 55.3% of actual size.)

Strong heartwood. (author’s note, anatomy of a tree, resources) (Informational picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4422-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative,...


From the Legendary Alston Boys series , Vol. 1

Can this really be the first time readers meet the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County? Cousins and veteran sleuths Otto and Sheed Alston show us that we are the ones who are late to their greatness.

These two black boys are coming to terms with the end of their brave, heroic summer at Grandma’s, with a return to school just right around the corner. They’ve already got two keys to the city, but the rival Epic Ellisons—twin sisters Wiki and Leen—are steadily gaining celebrity across Logan County, Virginia, and have in hand their third key to the city. No way summer can end like this! These young people are powerful, courageous, experienced adventurers molded through their heroic commitment to discipline and deduction. They’ve got their shared, lifesaving maneuvers committed to memory (printed in a helpful appendix) and ready to save any day. Save the day they must, as a mysterious, bendy gentleman and an oversized, clingy platypus have been unleashed on the city of Fry, and all the residents and their belongings seem to be frozen in time and place. Will they be able to solve this one? With total mastery, Giles creates in Logan County an exuberant vortex of weirdness, where the commonplace sits cheek by jowl with the utterly fantastic, and populates it with memorable characters who more than live up to their setting.

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative, thrill-seeking readers, this is a series to look out for. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-46083-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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