Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Reaching Upward

An hour ago, standing on my front porch as the sky lightened with a new day, the air was literally filled with bird song.  Trees reaching astounding heights line the yards of many homes in our neighborhood.  These trees were filled with our avian friends calling us awake.  Their roots run deep keeping the leaves green even though we need rain.

It's easy to imagine them when they were younger providing space for young adventurers to climb among their branches, perhaps even to the top to see the world from a different perspective.  As a breeze blew through those branches, the child hiding among the leaves gently swayed too.  In an informative title and tribute to the influence trees bring to our planet and to us, author Nikki Tate as part of the Orca Footprints series wrote Deep Roots: How Trees Sustain Our Planet (Orca Publishing, February 9, 2016).

No matter where you live, even if it's in a big city, chances are you won't be far from a tree or two.  

Continuing with her introduction Tate concludes:

In Deep Roots, we'll have a look at why trees just might be our best friends, barometers of how we are looking after our planet, and our partners as we move forward to create a healthier world.

Within four chapters titled Earth, Air, Water and Fire we are educated as to the value and remarkable attributes of trees. Each chapter is divided into between eight and ten sections.

One of the tallest trees in the entire world makes its home in the Redwood National Park in California.  When these large sentinels die or any tree falls, they continue to sustain the earth providing food for essential insects and invertebrates.  Roots from trees act as a filtering system and a freeway system.  Details are given to us about the importance of replanting when trees are harvested.  Did you know that tree rings show us more than age?  They can inform scientists as to the rate and type of climate change.

Trees are carbon sinks absorbing huge amounts of CO2 releasing oxygen in return.  In the canopies of tree giants whole communities live, communities which most of us will never see due to their heights.  What do you know about baobabs?  Why are they known as the Tree of Life?  The positive emotional impact of looking at trees and being among trees is supported by studies.

If you have never seen trees as rain makers before now, you will after understanding this facet of the water cycle.  The Great Green Wall is an enormous project to stop the spread of the Sahara Desert.  The volume of trees estimated to be planted is mind-boggling.  A cycle of salmon swimming back to their origin, bears waiting and feeding on them and the growth of trees along the Pacific Northwest is completely fascinating.

Man-made fires, unless controlled for a distinct function, are never good for our forests but they and those caused by lightning strikes do serve a purpose.  Heat causes certain seeds to be released from cones and ash has many uses; a soil enhancer, a pest deterrent and an ingredient in soap making.  For countless years the wood from trees has been used as fuel.  Trees yield themselves for transportation in the making of roads and vessels on water, for food, for homes and for the air life needs.

By dividing the narrative into four separate chapters and then sections within the chapters, Nikki Tate broadens our knowledge of trees in smaller, manageable portions.  Outside of the main narrative she includes seven Try This! columns such as asking us to commemorate a significant occasion by planting a tree.  She supplies eight Forest Fact insets such as

A tree planter in the Canadian bush can plant 1,600 to 5,000 new tree seedlings every day.

In four Wood Works she advises us further as to how wood is beneficial in very specific incidences.

In her I ♥ Trees paragraphs, all eight, we are privy to the very personal aspect trees have played in the life of Nikki Tate.  She shares with readers the influence of trees planted on her farm, a special tree commemorating an event, trees and gardening, tree climbing, remembering particular trees, and children's literature and trees. Here is one of those paragraphs.

For as long as I can remember I have loved climbing trees.  Even though I am usually afraid of heights, for some reason I always feel quite safe when I'm sitting up in the branches of a tree.  My old apple trees are a lot of fun to climb, especially early in the fall when their branches are full of apples.  I never get tired of climbing up into branches, reaching out for an apple and taking a bite.  Yum!

Throughout the title, pages are replete with photographs in a variety of sizes, all captioned.  Line drawings of branches, logs, trunks, root systems and camp fires are carefully placed to enhance the text. The backgrounds on divisional pages are textured mirroring wood grain.

Deep Roots: How Trees Sustain Our Planet written by Nikki Tate is a highly enlightening title.  Things you may have already known are supported with further knowledge.  You will learn many new important pieces of information.  Only with greater understanding from nonfiction picture books such as this volume can we educate ourselves to becoming better stewards for our planet.  This is highly recommended.  In addition to the table of contents in the front, print and website resources, a glossary and an index are included at the end.

To learn more about Nikki Tate please visit her website by following the link attached to her name.  She has an account on Twitter @writergrrrl

Each week I enjoy joining other bloggers and reading about their selections in the 2016 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by educator Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy.  Make sure you view their choices for this week.


  1. This is the same publisher of the Pride book I reviewed earlier this month. I'll definitely be checking out other books by them.

    1. I really enjoy this series. I have another one of their title to read about Bees.

  2. Replies
    1. I never tire of reading about trees, Beth. We really need to start protecting them and our water resources more. What I am reading about the bleaching of our coral reefs is not good.