Around the Oak

Gerda Muller, Author
Gerda Muller, Author Dutton Books $14.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-525-45239-3
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Reigning as the 300-year-old centerpiece of the forest, a spreading oak tree inspires the seasonal explorations of three youngsters. Ben and Caroline visit their cousin Nick, who lives in the woods with his mom and forest ranger dad. On a fall weekend the children, picnicking beneath the tree, spot a hawk chasing a pigeon; the next day they return and pick chanterelles. During Christmas vacation they ski under the tree and meet screech owls and a marten. They listen to woodcocks and watch badgers and deer drink from a water hole during spring break, and they collect insects, feathers, lichen and fruit in the summer. The easily evoked setting permits the characters to express their affinity for nature believably and readily. Muller's text flows spontaneously, effortlessly dispensing facts--and each successive reading seems to sprout new observations. Invitingly clear, almost folkloric paintings and drawings render the oak and its environs accurately and imaginatively. For curious naturalists, an illustrated supplement amplifies the information contained within the story. Ages 7-11. (June)
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