The wisdom of trees How trees work together to form a natural kingdom

Lita Judge

Book - 2021

"The story of a tree is a story of community, communication, and cooperation. Although trees may seem like silent, independent organisms, they form a network buzzing with life: they talk, share food, raise their young, and offer protection. Trees thrive on diversity, learn from their ancestors, and give back to their communities. Trees not only sustain life on our planet--they can also teach us important lessons about patience, survival, and teamwork. With lush illustrations, poems, and accessible scientific information, The Wisdom of Trees is a fascinating exploration of the hidden communities trees create to strengthen themselves and others." -- inside front jacket flap.

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Instructional and educational works
Picture books
New York : Roaring Brook Press 2021
Main Author
Lita Judge (author)
First edition
Physical Description
47 pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Ages 5-8
Grades K-1
Includes bibliographical references.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In author-illustrator Judge's comprehensive nonfiction picture book, free verse poems from the perspective of trees occur alongside factual paragraphs of supplementary prose. The collection conveys trees' "secret language... that allows them to work together in communities," forming symbiotic relationships with fungi, insects, and animals, and "sending chemical and electrical signals, like secret codes," to benefit each other and their ecosystems. Scenes and species spotlighted from the Americas, Europe, and Asia drive home trees' global significance, as well as ecologists' assertion that trees are "our planet's best defense against climate change." Elegant watercolor and pencil illustrations in a naturalistic color palette adeptly portray flora and fauna, encouraging readers to dwell on each detail and making for an accessible, rousing resource. Back matter includes an author's note, more about fungi, the life spans of trees, and additional details about the tree species pictured. Ages 5--8. (Mar.)

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 3--5--This title explains how trees communicate and collaborate in their environments. The text uses a combination of nonfiction prose and poetry to teach readers about the science, chemistry, and growth of trees. Lovely, soft illustrations that highlight a variety of trees around the world accompany the dense text, including Africa, the United States, and Canada. There is an abundance of interesting information about how trees "share" information between themselves and their environments. One of the strengths of this title is that Judge highlights different species of trees and describes each tree in the context of its habitat and its relation to other trees and animals within its environment. Each section indicates the species, location, and how this particular species relates to all trees. The research is thorough and the details are engaging. The illustrations capture the diversity of environments and beautifully highlight the connectivity of forests. Labeled diagrams spotlighting specifics from the main text are an added bonus. The poetry adds a wonderful lyrical quality to the text. The title concludes with additional background on each poem and how that poem reflects real-life science. There is also information on how fires impact trees, why it is important to care for our forests, and suggestions for action. A glossary, sources, and suggested websites are included. VERDICT Wonderful illustrations and poetry highlight cutting-edge scientific information about how trees communicate and share information. Don't leave this one behind.--Susan Lissim, Dwight Sch., New York City

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Review by Horn Book Review

Scientists are learning that trees communicate with one another, and with other species, by sending chemical and electrical signals. These "instant messages," often transmitted through fungi partners entwined with tree roots, share information about soil conditions, warn of attacks from insects, and send calls for help when a tree is in distress. Judge thoroughly explains the many ways in which trees and the organisms that live in, under, and near them form complex and interdependent ecosystems. She emphasizes cooperation, rather than competition, to highlight the ways they help other species and trees in their immediate areas. The volume's well-organized layout runs scientific information down a column far to the right side of each double-page spread, while short poems imagining what trees are saying can be found mostly to the left, overlaying the illustrations. In the poems, the trees speak solemnly, their communications translated into the voices of wise matriarchs caring for all living things. Central to the layouts are the figures themselves: grand stands of North American and European trees, beautifully portrayed with twisty branches, fluttering leaves, and intricate root complexes. The perspectives shift with each turn of the page, from human eye level to a bird's overhead view, and then down on and under the forest floor. Extensive notes in the back matter provide additional details about the species in each illustration, as well as lists of resources and a glossary. Danielle J. Ford July/August 2021 p.133(c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

In poetry, prose, and art, examples from around the world teach both basic botany and current, even cutting-edge, research about trees. Each double-page spread includes detailed watercolor art, a short, titled poem, and prose paragraphs that extend each poem's meaning. As the text explains: "The poems in this book reveal what trees might say if they did use words." The poems are written in an accessible free verse with a pleasing rhythm and near rhymes, and they include sly homage to both Shakespearean verse and more modern memes. Equally accessible prose introduces readers to the humorously--but appropriately--designated Wood Wide Web, which allows trees long-distance, intra-tree communication through mycorrhizal fungi at their roots. That knowledge, and the tale of savvy, giraffe-battling acacias, will be familiar to readers of Peter Wohlleben's Can You Hear the Trees Talking? (2019). This text goes further by stressing cooperation rather than competition among different tree species and, indeed, by declaring that trees are the entire planet's "best defense against climate change." There are excellent explanations of standard topics such as photosynthesis along with revelations about how many insect species were found on one tree in Costa Rica, why most of Malaysia's tualang trees are protected (home to Asian rock bees, a type of honeybee), and the urgent necessity of reforestation. Final pages offer further information, organized by the poem titles. With the exception of some awkwardly depicted animals, the illustrations complement the text's quality of reverence. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 38.9% of actual size.) Recommended reading, from mycorrhizal fungi to canopy. (glossary, sources, websites) (Informational picture book/poetry. 8-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.