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Thursday, June 26, 2014

What's That Tree? Written by Tony Russell. DK Publishing, Tourmaline Editions Inc. 2013. $10.95 ages 8 and up

"Trees are the largest, oldest, and most complex plants on Earth. They have been around for over 350 million years and cover almost one-third of the Earth's land surface. There are more than 80,000 different species (plus numerous cultivars), ranging in size from tiny Arctic Willows, just a few inches high, to Giant Redwoods over 300 feet (100 meters) tall."

Once I have a handle on the birds in my yard and neighborhood, I will start on the trees that I see daily. Some I know without question, others I cannot even offer a guess concerning their names. So, learning is sure to happen over the next few months.

We begin with identification by season and location, and move on to form, size and growth rate. When we get to leaf shapes, my interest amps up. I might be able to retain some of this information, and certainly it will help me identify common trees in the neighborhood. Information is also shared concerning leaf margins, arrangement, bark, flowers, and seeds  before moving on to the three main tree profiles:

"The trees have first been divided into three main groups: conifers; broadleaves with undivided (simple) leaves; and broadleaves with compound leaves, which have leaves made up of smaller leaflets. Within each of these tree divisions the trees are grouped by leaf shape."

Who knew there would be so many? 150 common tree species from North America are included. I am not likely to see or need to identify a number of them, but I know that I will be more informed by summer's end about the trees that are common to my stomping grounds. That's a good thing!

Because the photographs and captions are so clear and informative, this book will be useful for those kids who want to know more about the trees they see, and for classrooms where science curriculum encompasses trees, changes in nature, and growth.

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