Nicola Davies writes beautiful books and this one is a wonderful celebration of trees. Given that trees cover a third of our planet it would only seem logical that we know a lot about them, but do we? Nicola Davies’ smashing non-fiction book ensures that we can all understand the wonder of trees and the important role that they have in the world.
There are over 60,000 species of trees in the world and we could not exist without them. They are the living and breathing lungs of the world. Around for nearly 400 million years and found almost all over the world, animals and humans are dependent on trees for water, food, shelter and for their wood. From the tiny Dwarf Willow to the magnificent Giant Redwood, trees are marvellous, magnificent and essential…
In The Wonder of Trees, Davies covers everything young children need to know about trees. Opening pages ensure readers understand what a tree is and is not - this is not as straight forward as it sounds. Palm tree, not a tree. And banana plants may look like a tree but they’re actually ‘big herbs’. Davies also covers the geographical locations of trees and a bit of tree history. It’s then on to parts of a tree where trunks, branches, bark, roots, seeds and flowers are unpicked as well as the clever leaves that make the tree’s food - described as ‘food factories’, making the idea completely accessible to children.
Having clarified the essentials, the following three sections explore the wider role of trees and the implications of cutting them down. Sections cover the role of trees in various eco-systems, the different communities of trees that exist all over the world and human interactions with trees - both positive and negative.
The book is immediately appealing and engaging. Pages are bursting with information and are exploding with nature. Every turn of the page reveals a wonderful mix of examples and facts with Lorna Scobie’s artwork creating a nature and wildlife wonderland. The stunning illustrations capture everything from the intricate details of bark patterns to growth rings, the wonderful colours of leaves to the animals and insects that are utterly dependent on trees. Even if children are not confident readers, they will thoroughly enjoy looking at the illustrations.
Davies’ writing is interesting and perfectly pitched. Scientific words are carefully introduced and are always explained so children can understand. “Trees need to breathe through their bark, so it has tiny breathing holes called LENTICELS.” Perfection, not a word wasted, no need to confuse with long drawn out explanations. Scientific names for plants and animals are included throughout and how to understand their meaning is explained in the introduction. The book does omit a contents and an index, sections are grouped together by the use of a large coloured vertical stripe. A lovely glossary is included and many useful terms are explained in child-friendly language. I particularly like the inclusion of the phonetic pronunciation of ‘species’.
The book could be enjoyed by children of all ages. It is ideal for younger children to enjoy with an adult - its large size makes it ideal to read together. Confident readers will enjoy exploring it by themselves.
Recommended for 7+.