Cover Image

Picture a Tree by B. Reid

Reid, Barbara. Picture a Tree. Toronto: North Winds Press, 2011. Print.

The cover notes for this picture book tell us to “Picture a tree – now look again!”  Award winning Toronto author and illustrator, Barbara Reid, encourages readers to see not just the trees, but how people use them, what they mean and what we can see in them.  However it is not just the trees that demand a second look.  The book itself is the most amazing collection of artwork – all made of plasticine, a modeling clay!  On each page showing a tree in leaf, there are hundreds of tiny plasticine leaves.  When Reid shows us a street scene where the trees make a leafy tunnel, the street, the cars, the house fronts and the people walking their dog are all fine plasticine work.  When she shows us shade trees as umbrellas, not only is the woman with the baby and the man on a scooter made of the plasticine, the shadow cast by the tree is, too.

As the book moves through the seasons from spring to winter, Reid really does find many different ways to look at trees. She sees the leafless branches as a drawing against the sky, falling leaves as a good-bye party and snow-covered trees as trees in snowsuits.  The text is brief and easy to read; no more than a single sentence on each page.  The concepts and words are simple enough for children ages three and up to enjoy.

Most children reading this book will not see the artwork as different from any other illustration.  It is only in the expanses of sky or snow that it is easy to see the plasticine.  Because of this, parents will enjoy Picture a Tree on a different level from the children with whom they share it.   Highly recommended for public and elementary school libraries.

Highly recommended:  4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer:  Sandy Campbell

Sandy is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Alberta, who has written hundreds of book reviews across many disciplines.  Sandy thinks that sharing books with children is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.