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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Branching Out: HOW TREES are part of OUR WORLD, by Joan Marie Galat. Owlkids, 2014. $13.95 ages 8 and up

"When you plant a silk cotton tree, you plant an umbrella tree species - one that a large number of animals use for food and habitat. You might also help increase the population of the endangered white-rumped vulture, which favors this tree for roosting and nesting."

This is nonfiction that will be welcomed by readers in grades 3 and up. Each section provides informative text about a variety of trees around the world, and adds intriguing details that make natural connections concerning our dependence on the tree being described.

Each of the 11 trees featured is given a full page illustration which begs comparison from one tree to the next for interested readers. I like the maps that show where the trees are found in the world, and the fact boxes that add meaning to the rest of the text. Close ups offer details that might be missed otherwise, and are well done.

Carefully researched and wisely chosen examples of how trees impact human lives mean that the trees included are very important to each of the ecosystems where they are found. It is a most useful introduction for young readers, and will be much appreciated by those interested in nonfiction writing.

In her introduction, Joan Marie Galat explains much about all trees: why we need them, the impact they have on nature, the definition of their parts. She goes on to explain how the book is designed and why it will be useful to readers. In the end, we all understand how much trees matter to the health of our world. I was fascinated by how much she had to share with her audience. I like that she encourages each one of us to do our part in replacing trees that have been lost, and are much needed for the future. Many details are included: common and Latin names, leaf silhouette, native growing locations, appearance, and average height.

Accessible and informative, the author also includes a glossary and an index that prove useful for returning to favorite parts, and to understanding new vocabulary.

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