Tree Song, by Tiffany Stone, follows the journey of an acorn becoming an oak tree. During the autumn, an acorn falls to the ground, lays dormant for the winter, sprouts in the spring and continues to grow larger throughout the summer. Year after year, the tree keeps growing. Tiffany Stone uses rhyming poetry to describe the soundscape in the forest that changes its “song” each season as the tree matures.
As we learn about the tree’s life cycle, the illustrations by Holly Hatam add a parallel storyline. We see children connecting with nature through activities such as bird watching, snowshoeing and having a picnic under the shade of the tree. Animals in their various habitats are pictured. At times, a cross-section of the earth is revealed to show those creatures that burrow under the soil for protection and hibernation. Many of these images, alongside the leaf changes of the deciduous trees, can be used as a springboard for seasonally inspired art.
At one point, a logger is about to chop down the tree, but he notices the animals that have taken shelter in the branches and drops his axe. There is a wide variety of emotions captured in this image.
Eventually, the ancient tree succumbs to the wind and falls to the forest floor ending its “song” – but not before a new acorn starts to sprout!
Tree Song lends itself perfectly as a read-aloud in the primary grades. Specifically, this picture book aligns well to the big ideas of the primary science curriculum. For instance, Grade 1 students can explore seasonal changes and how they affect living things. Grade 2 students can ponder how we need to protect animals and the places they live. Grade 3 students can expand their understanding of how plants grow and need our protection.
Tree Song displays a message of caring for – and connecting with – nature. This is a picture book worth revisiting more than once to spot all the details to which you can draw your students’ attention.
Amanda Anderson is a member of the Bluewater and Upper Grand Occasional Teacher Locals.