Life Cycle of an Oak Tree

Angela Royston is a prolific children’s writer, and her expertise shows in Life Cycle of An Oak Tree. She knows exactly what words to use, simply and clearly. She also knows how the story should unfold. In fact, Life Cycle of An Oak Tree is a nice solid informational book rather like an oak tree itself.

life-cycle-oak-tree-1Starting out with an acorn, and following an oak tree through its life cycle until it is hundreds of years old, the young reader learns both about the developmental process and the vocabulary needed to discuss it. The centerpiece of the story is an English oak, which can live for 900 years. What a venerable tree!

Illustrated with clear, colorful photographs, and with a timeline on each page, the book is visually appealing. The summary of the life cycle does skip steps, for example moving from sapling to catkins, but the text makes the steps clear.

For children interested in nature and ready to show off their reading skills, this is great book to give them a firm start.

Ages:  6-8  •  Grade Level:  1-3
Publisher: Heinemann  2010 (2nd Edition)
ISBN: 9781432925314 (1432925318)

Submitted to the July I Can Read carnival, hosted at In Need of Chocolate.


We’re continuing our salute to trees this month.

If you are a fan of Douglas Florian, then you probably know he has a new book of poetry, aptly named Poetrees. poetrees

For once, I’ll let the author’s words speak for themselves:

This book is ripe with poetrees,
They’re grown to educate and please.
You’ll see a cedar.
Oak tree too.
Birch and banyan,
Pine and yew.
Palm and gum
And willow tree,
Plus more you’ll love tree-mendously!

I love that Florian chose trees from around the world like the banyan, not just common North American ones. He also uses and explains many common botanical terms “to educate.” As usual there is an element of gentle humor, both visual details and the word play of the poems.

The layout of this book shows how much thought went into its design. The entire book consists of vertical, two-page spreads, giving the feel of looking at a tall tree. If you are familiar with Florian’s illustrations, you will recognize his unconventional art.

Given the spare words and whimsical illustrations, Poetrees has sometimes been mislabeled as a picture book for very young children. For example, I found this book in the children’s section at my local library (we have a juvenile section for older children), and Amazon says a reading level ages 4-8. This is too bad, because most very young readers will probably not be ready to enjoy this book. Booklist suggests grades 3-6, which I think is much closer to the mark. Older children and adults will appreciate it more thoroughly.

Poetrees definitely deserves an appropriate audience. It is a fun way to learn more about trees.

Reading level: Ages 4-8 (according to Amazon, I’d recommend at least 9-12)
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Beach Lane Books; 1 edition (March 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416986723
ISBN-13: 978-1416986720


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Anastasia Suen’s Nonfiction Monday page. This week’s post is at Abby (the) Librarian.

The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-ups

Our theme this month is going to be books about trees as I prepare to host the Festival of the Trees carnival at Growing with Science blog . tree-book

Starting out July with a bang is The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-ups by Gina Ingoglia.

You learn to expect high quality books from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and this wonderful book is no exception. First of all, the information is top notch. Gina Ingoglia is associated with the garden, and she knows her trees. She also knows children, as she has written numerous children’s books. Her experience shows as she strikes just the right note to enlighten the reader.

The watercolor illustrations are deceptively simple, almost childlike, but also charming. If you look closely, however, you will see all the important details used for identification are accurately depicted, for example the page showing all the different patterns found in the bark of trees. It turns out that Ingoglia has studied the fine art of botanical illustration.

Put all these ingredients together and you get a book that will likely be passed down from generation to generation. The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-ups is a must for any child (or adult!) interested in trees, plants and/or nature.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Brooklyn Botanic Garden (October 7, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1889538434
ISBN-13: 978-1889538433

For more information:

A thematic list of trees at The Miss Rumphius Effect

Tree Science Activities at Growing With Science


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Anastasia Suen’s Nonfiction Monday page. This week’s post is at 5 Great Books.


Gardening With Children

With the increasing popularity of gardening, let’s look at a classic book:  Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy. roots-shoots

This book has been a family favorite. Lovejoy’s creativity and obvious joy in her subject make it a unique treasure among gardening books. So much more than a simple how-to plant a garden, children learn to experience the garden with all their senses. Their interest is engaged in complex and multi-layered ways. Hollyhocks aren’t just tall plants with pretty flowers; they are forts or hideouts, dolls and even snacks.

Not only is this book filled with accurate and fun information about gardening, but also the creatures you find there. For example, under “Harvest Treats for the Birds & Bees” on page 36, Sharon Lovejoy gives instructions for a simple “Stalk Hotel” as a place for pollinating insects to nest. This is a wonderful way to re-purpose a part of the garden that might otherwise be tossed away (more on small carpenter bees.) As an entomologist who has led bug walks for kids, I love her “Explorer’s Kit” on page 137.

I could go on and on at all the wonderful things in this book. If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend you take a look at it. There’s something in it for everyone to love.

Related Activities:

Kitchen scrap gardening – look in the left column for links to activities.

Theme gardens

Theme garden books

Germination test to do with children

More germination experiments

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (May 1, 1999)
ISBN-10: 0761110569
ISBN-13: 978-0761110569

(Affiliate link to Amazon)


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day which is hosting today’s carnival.