cover image As an Oak Tree Grows

As an Oak Tree Grows

G. Brian Karas. Penguin/Paulsen, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25233-4

Karas (On Earth) juxtaposes a steadily growing oak tree with the changing landscape around it in this engaging tale of transformation and constancy. It opens with a Native American boy planting an acorn on a forested hill. Subsequent scenes and to-the-point narration reveal how the forest gives way to farmland and a town, which grows into a city. More than 200 years pass and the oak provides a home for animals, swings, and a tree fort. Gouache and pencil illustrations maintain the same perspective throughout, inviting comparisons between elements in each spread and their more modern counterparts that follow (a canoe on the bay is replaced by schooners, steamships, and motorboats). After a poignant penultimate spread (logs are sawed up and driven away after lightning takes the giant tree), the story comes full circle with a sapling. A rapidly modernizing society, the resultant impact on the environment, and the constant, observant presence of nature are themes readers can start to grasp with this book. More simply, it’s a charming cycle-of-life story and an engaging chronicle of American urban history. Ages 5–8. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Sept.)