The wonder of trees by Nicola Davies

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Illus. by Lorna Scobie. Hodder Children's Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781444938197.
(Ages: 5+) Highly recommended. Themes: Trees, Animal habitats. Nicola Davies is an English Zoologist and prolific writer of children's books, including picture books, non-fiction and novels. This title follows the same style as Davies and Scobie's 2017 publication The variety of life, which looked at the incredible diversity of life within the animal kingdom. This title, The wonder of trees, does a similar thing in celebrating the incredible adaptability of trees, and explains how creatures, including humans, rely on them. Lorna Scobie's watercolour illustrations are beautiful, delicate and full of vibrant colour from flowers, leaves and animal life and make the book deserving of its large format. The author/illustrator combination work perfectly as both Scobie and Davies work almost exclusively on projects involving the natural world. This is equally accessible for a five year old and a fourteen year old because of its short paragraphs, large illustrations and its use of simple language, despite containing some complex information. There is no contents or index page but the book is clearly defined into sections with headings running in bold down the side of each page. The first few pages outline what trees are and how they evolved, including ancient and now extinct trees. The next section deals with different parts of trees, including close up illustrations of the teeny-tiny tubes in wood and information about how root fungus allow trees to communicate with each other. There are also close-ups of different varieties of tree bark. There is then a section about how different animals and plants use trees for habitats, food, transport and safety. The next looks at specific habitats or communities of trees (taiga forest, temperate woodlands, dry gum forests, cloud forests and tropical rainforests) and the last looks at the relationship between people and trees, both how we benefit from trees and how we are destroying them. The book finishes by detailing how we can help by planting trees in our backyard or community. A quite comprehensive and easily accessible glossary is included at the back. Each of the trees pictured within the book and many of the animals, are named, both with common name and scientific name. This is an incredibly comprehensive look at the world of trees, useful for school projects but also just a beautiful book to peruse at leisure. It is a true treat which will fascinate, educate and inspire both young and old.
Nicole Nelson