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A Grand Old Tree

Last updated Friday, March 30, 2007

Author: Mary Newell DePalma
Date of Publication: 2005
ISBN: 0439623340
Grade Level: Kindergarten    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2007

Synopsis: From School Library Journal: The life cycle of a tree is introduced through deceptively simple text and art. DePalma's short, measured phrases turn facts about a tree's growth, her seasonal changes, and the home she provides to a variety of creatures into an ode to an often-overlooked part of the natural world. The fact that the tree is given a female persona makes her seem that much more alive than if she were an it. Her roots sank deep into the earth, her arms reached high into the sky. The art superbly complements the writing. The use of white space to set off the child-inspired illustration style allows the words to stand out and makes the entire design clear and crisp. The tree's demise on a winter evening is particularly striking. Perfect for storyhour and for beginning readers, this book will make a grand addition to most collections.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What types of trees do you see in your neighborhood? How are they different?
•  What kinds of trees do you like? What do trees do for us? What do they do for the environment?
•  Are there different colors of trunks and leaves? What are some colors?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What kinds of creatures live in or around the tree?
•  What does the tree do in the different seasons?
•  What season is it now? What are trees doing now?
•  How do new trees grow?
•  How was the grand old tree still important even after if died and fell over?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw your favorite kind of tree.
•  Fold a paper into quarters, and then open it out. In each quadrant, draw a tree in a different season. Show how the tree changes with the seasons.
•  Bring ahead option: Make a tree collage. Cut out pictures of trees from nature magazines and glue them to white paper.

Special activities:
•  Have children crouch down low as a baby tree, then slowly stretch up as they grow. Reach arms up high, then sway back and forth in the wind.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!