Whether you’re “nuts about the coconut,” or think the Japanese Cedar is “ex-seed-ingly fine,” you’ll be drawn into this amazingly creative celebration of trees. I have to say that the statement on the cover was right – I loved this book “tree-mendously!”
Be prepared to have your ideas of books and poetry turned sideways! Poetrees by Douglas Florian is formatted to take advantage of the height created when opened. I’ll go out on a limb and say it is the best combination of words, layout and art I’ve seen in a long time. Whether it is the words of “The Seed” printed in the form of an infinity symbol to show how the life of trees is a cycle or the words in “Roots” that cascade down the page, much like roots sink into the soil, the arrangement of text on the pages adds another layer of meaning to the already strong combination of vivid imagery of the poems and the inspired illustrations. Poetrees is just an amazingly beautiful and effective book.
The poems are whimsical and humorous while still conveying a real sense of the specific characteristics of the individual species of trees. The description of the baobab tree as a “Girth tree” coupled with the illustration of 7 children linking hands and stretching to encircle the trunk really conveys the personality of the tree in a fun way.
For all its fun and beauty, this is also a factual book, complete with a “Glossatree,” with information on each species of tree, and a list of titles Florian used as references while creating his “poetrees.” This book is well-suited to middle-elementary aged children. It is a fabulous example of poetry and art but would also make an excellent supplement to any study of trees.
This review was published on the Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Shelf Life blog on July 7, 2011