Reviews for We Planted a Tree

Booklist Reviews 2010 February #2
A family in Brooklyn plants a tree in their small backyard; turn the page and a Kenyan family plants a tree on the bare African savannah. Then in Paris, Tokyo, and more places across the globe, each newly planted tree grows up, as the children in the family do. Muldrow weaves some science into the lines: "Sunshine went into the leaves / And brought food to the tree," and through the seasons, the trees grow beautiful pink blossoms, green leaves that help clean the air, and fruit, while their roots keep the soil from blowing away and provide a place for families to plant food. Illustrating the simple poetry are clean-lined digital illustrations that show the botany details and celebrate the connections between plants and people, present and long-term, across time and space, as each generation continues the conservation efforts and helps "heal the earth." Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2010 April
It only takes one tree

Just as a family plants a tree in the backyard of their Brooklyn neighborhood, another family in Kenya plants a tree, a reflection of the country’s Green Belt Movement, created by environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.


In simple yet poetic and inspirational text, Diane Muldrow shares stories describing how trees, whether in Central Park or Paris, New England or Africa, on a Midwest farm or along the Mediterranean coast, provide a multitude of benefits for the earth. After buds burst open and leaves appear, these leaves and the sun combine to give trees their food. In turn, trees provide shade, clean air, fruit, sap for syrup and food for animals. They prevent erosion, which makes the soil healthier and allows people to grow and eat their own nutritious vegetables.


Bob Staake’s computer generated, cartoon-like characters evoke nothing but joy as they interact with the trees and their offerings. Some trees, like the one that holds up a girl’s swing set and spans two pages, become the focus of the illustrations, while other trees, such as the ones that form the perimeter of a baseball field, blend into the background of a playful afternoon. In one scene, in which birthday preparations are underway at a seaside home, the illustrator gives a nod to two of his previous books. He incorporates lemon trees, evoking The Red Lemon, and the delivery of a cake by a rotund baker, like the character in The Donut Chef.


Staake depicts the refrain “We planted a tree and it grew up” by showing both trees and children growing up together until a second generation takes pleasure in a picnic beneath a lush tree that now blocks the view of the Brooklyn Bridge, and around a shady tree amidst a plentiful Kenyan garden.


In We Planted a Tree, Muldrow emphasizes that only one tree is needed to reap rewards. For motivation to plant that first tree, this is the one book families will need.


Angela Leeper always enjoys a shady afternoon at her home in Richmond, Virginia.

Copyright 2010 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Each of two families--one in a developed, urban setting and the other in a developing, agrarian region--cultivates a tree whose rewards include better air quality and healthier soil. The global ramifications of a simple seed will be news to many young readers, who will enjoy tracking the growth of both the trees and the featured families, whose members age before readers' eyes in the crisp illustrations. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 February #2
Using a quote from Wangari Maathai as a springboard, Muldrow's poem delineates the tree's seasonal cycles and celebrates its benefits for living creatures. In natural language, the narrator adopts a global view, lauding her subject's abilities to cool the earth, clean the air and prevent erosion ("The tree kept the soil from blowing away-- / Now rainwater could stay in the earth"). Staake is an accomplished illustrator with many New Yorker covers under his belt. His ultra-stylized depictions rove from Brooklyn to a presumed African plain, to Tokyo, Paris, New England and possibly the Cinque Terre (though one where apples and lemons yield concurrently), riding roughshod over the poet's delicate allusions. The stripped-down computer-generated pictures vie with the ecology-focused subject rather than extending it, and the pie-eyed, inane expressions of the humans depicted around the globe flirt visually with the stereotypical cultural caricatures common to the mid-century European advertising posters that the illustrator credits as influences. Consider instead other children's works inspired by Maathai, such as Donna Jo Napoli's Mama Miti, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (2010). (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2010 May/June
This picture book features a simplistic poem about two families, continents away from one another, planting trees. The poem shows the trees growing and the benefits they give the families as well as the general abilities of trees throughout the world. Informational text, such as the cleaning of the air, supporting the soil, bearing fruit and sap, and animal habitats, are briefly touched upon. In the end, the author brings the poem full circle by repeating the beginning ?We planted a tree and it grew up? and adding the now adult children?s ?and so did we.? The cartoony artwork adorns the pages and showcases trees across the world. Brightly colored, multicultural characters, and vivid and varied locations make the artwork shine throughout the book. While the text is the core of the book, the artwork is its heart. The easy text and eye-catching artwork lends this book for group sharing. From Brooklyn to Kenya and Paris to Tokyo, the poem and artwork work fluidly to showcase all the wond ous abilities trees possess. Recommended. Kristin Fletcher-Spear, Teen Librarian, Foothills Branch Library, Glendale, Arizona ¬ 2010 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 March #1

As Staake shows families around the world planting trees and enjoying their gifts, Muldrow sets an incantatory mood: "We planted a tree./ We planted a tree and it grew up." Each spread bubbles with retro-styled, wide-eyed exuberance; it's a kick to see how Staake wields geometry as he gleefully globe-trots, wrapping his curvilinear-inclined aesthetic around locales as far flung as the African savanna, downtown Paris, Brooklyn, and snowy New England. Its unconditional joy and exuberance stand out. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 March

PreS-Gr 4--With a synergistic mesh of lyrical language and bright, expansive illustrations, this picture book enumerating the many benefits of trees is a winner. Muldrow's poetic text shapes beauty from simple observations: "The sunshine went into the buds,/And soon they burst open./Everywhere it was pink./And we were dizzy/With springtime." As the text describes the growth of the tree and the many benefits it provides (shade, clean air, fruit, sap, and holding the soil, among others), Staake's signature modernized cartoon-style illustrations circle the globe, showing families in New York, Vermont, Japan, Kenya, France, and Italy as they enjoy what the trees have to offer. Enjoyable and informative, this beautiful presentation of a clear ecological message is perfect for sharing on Earth Day, Arbor Day, or in ecology units.--Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD

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