.The Wonder of Trees
Nicola Davies and Lorna Scobie
(Hodder Children’s Books)– hardback
‘Trees will grow where there is enough light, rain and warmth’. Nicola Davies, zoologist and award-winning writer, shares her knowledge and understanding in ‘The Wonder of Trees‘. Each double page opens with a question or focus topic in a vertical, colour coded background, e.g., ‘What is a tree’, ‘Bark’, ‘Cloud Forests’. Thereafter, Nicola Davies expands upon every iota of trees and their wonder. For example, did you know about the world’s smallest tree, the Dwarf Willow (Salix Herbacea)? It might grow to 10 centimetres only, but is a tree because of its woody bark and continued growth?
Furthermore, do you know about the reasons for different leaf shapes? Why do some trees have broad leaves and others, like the Boojum tree, have ‘tiny spiky branches and small leaves’? I was aware of the communal wonder of mangrove trees, yet not the invisible networks or toadstool helpers that anchor, strengthen and feed trees. We learn about different types of tree communities, from the taiga, the ‘single biggest land habitat in the world’. This is the ice tundra at the top of the world. It seems impossible for survival, yet frog lollies and snowshoe hares are amongst species deep within a magical conifer forest.
The colour edge coding which guides our reading compartmentalises subjects. We move from seeds and flowers and bark in a green edge to animal life within tree communities, bordered in a teal blue. How do mammals who live in trees survive and feed?
Lorna Scobie’s pictures elevate the fascination of Nicola Davies’ information. She uses seasonal, setting friendly colours to emphasise the information. She arranges the pages so that we wander through the snippets on the double pages, collecting information with awe.
There are stark warnings about the loss of trees to our health, welfare and future that are informed, evidential and reasoned. We are all the better for being reminded of ‘The Wonder of Trees’.