Tree Beings by Raymond Huber and Sandra Severgnini

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With the tag line 'Books with heart on issues that matter, readers picking up this weighty book will be in no doubt about the expertise being presented to them. An introduction and opening chapter by celebrated environmentalist, Dr Jane Goodall will cement the idea that this book is worth the read.

Divided into four main chapters (Big Ideas), Life in the trees, Trees can save us, Trees are like beings and Trees need our help, each chapter is then segmented into shorter chapters which tell of the anatomy of the tree and its purpose on earth and what it does for us, with smaller sections offering real stories about how some people have worked to save trees. So we read of Tony Rinaurdo who noticed that the stumps of the tees in the desolate land around the village in Niger, Africa where he was trying to grow trees, were still alive. So he set about nurturing these stumps and from these the villagers grew back a forest which helps the soil, reduces carbon in the atmosphere and provides shelter.

Another tale is of Wangari who stood up to her government in Kenya where forests were being cut down. Eventually the Green Belt Movement took hold, planting over 50 million trees, while a young girl sat in a Redwood Tree in California for two years to stop its destruction, so each chapter gives information that is fascinating and enthralling, while paralleling that information with a human story of someone making a difference.

Within the chapters too are full page information sheets about one aspect of the forest: Brazil nuts and Fig trees, for example, while web addresses are given to encourage children to find out more, and specifically, how they can help. A Glossary, Reference list, Index and page of puzzles round off an absorbing book, one the I can imagine will be picked up by kids eager to learn more and help save the trees.

Detailed illustrations greet readers on every page, highlighting the themes of the chapters, adding to the environmental message of the text, and adding eye appeal to the ideas presented. I particularly enjoyed the images of what lies beneath the surface, seeing how the roots travel and make a difference. 

Themes: Trees, Environment, Forests, Conservation, Climate change, Action.

Fran Knight