Peculiar Picks

Peculiar Picks are a selection of odd, funny, interesting, curious, moving, irreverent, and otherwise wonderfully awesome, but perhaps not well known, reads. Peculiar Picks are books for younger readers and their grown-ups, handpicked by the Library's Youth Services Manager, Joshua Carlson.

While putting together last week’s Peculiar Picks for Earth Day, I noticed I had several tree-centric books. It only made sense, then, with Arbor Day on April 30, to compile an Arbor Day list. On the last Friday each April, National Arbor Day celebrates planting trees and what that tree will provide into the future: “clean air and water, cooling shade, habitat for wildlife, healthier communities, and endless natural beauty — all for a better tomorrow.” These books embrace and promote that sentiment, educate about the importance and beauty of trees and will inspire environmental action.
Tree by Britta Teckentrup
Library Catalog
Britta Teckentrup has made a lot of gorgeous books. Tree is one of several that feature a fun “peek through” hole in the pages throughout. Focused on one tree throughout the seasons of the year, the simple book for younger kids demonstrates the importance of that one tree to all of the animals of the ecosystem it grows in – it’s their source of food, their home and shelter, and even a place to play.

We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow, illustrated by Bob Staake
eBook / Library Catalog
We Planted a Tree shows how trees impact the lives of people all around the world, in any sort of human environment – city, suburban and rural. A tree can be a place of emotional connection, lasting through generations, and a means to change the very nature of the world around a family, making it more habitable, sustaining and nourishing.

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: a True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter
eBook / Library Catalog
Speaking of planting trees… In this true story, young Wangari Maathai returns to Kenya and questions the deforestation of her home and takes action, planting new trees – nine seedlings. This small act leads to a movement, not only an environmental movement, but also a movement leading to empowering and employing women. Wangari faced oppression and imprisonment from the government for her actions, but the movement she started continued and spread to other countries. Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

The Magic & Mystery of Trees by Laura Murray, illustrated by Mike Lowery
eBook / Library Catalog
Growing up, I loved lavishly illustrated nonfiction – just to pour over the images of other places, times, and facts and figures. I’ve seen the same in my daughter, and luckily, there is an abundance of high-quality gorgeously illustrated and designed nonfiction being published today. The artwork draws you in, makes you want to learn by engaging your eyes while your brain is stimulated and informed. The Magic & Mystery of Trees fits right into this beautiful nonfiction category, with an abundance of really fascinating and interesting information about trees, as well as being a joy to look at.

Poetrees by Douglas Florian
eBook / Library Catalog
Arbor Day is also the last day of National Poetry Month, so a book of poetry is perfect, especially one that playfully combines “poetry” and “trees” into one word for the title. Poetrees celebrates all kinds of trees and their growth from tiny seeds into the largest sequoias. This book makes fantastic use of its design, with readers needing to turn the book sideways so that the height of trees can expand vertically across two pages.

Be a Tree! by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Felicita Sala
Library Catalog / Hoopla
By comparing a tree to a human body, Be a Tree! Really drives home the idea that a tree is not just a plant, but a vital part of the planetary ecosystem, and integral to human life. The comparison to people also allows the book to provide a message about humanity, as well, and that we, like trees, are all important, connected parts in a diverse forest of people.

Kate, Who Tamed the Wind by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Lee White
eBook / Library Catalog
It’s well known that plants, especially trees, are needed to make the oxygen we breathe, but Kate, Who Tamed the Wind teaches about another important, but perhaps less well-known, way that trees help us – as windbreaks and as protection against erosion. The book’s message is one of caring for the Earth and the environment, but also one of caring for each other as Kate’s mission to plant trees stems from her observations of a man in her community’s struggles.

Let’s Save Our Planet: Forests by Jess French, illustrated by Alexander Mostov
eBook / Library Catalog
Perhaps Wangari’s Trees of Peace or Greta and the Giants and some of the other recommendations from last week’s Earth Day Peculiar Picks helped your child to find their inner activist. Let’s Save Our Planet: Forests is a great way to start. With information about the importance of trees, the impact of deforestation, as well as the forward-thinking work of scientists and activists to combat climate change and deforestation, the book provides ideas and activities for kids to take part in to make a difference on their own. I’m looking forward to future installments of the Let’s Save Our Planet series.

Categories: Authors & Books, Kids, and Library News.

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