cover image A Tree in a Forest

A Tree in a Forest

Jan Thornhill. Simon & Schuster, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-671-75901-8

``Every tree in every forest has its own special story.'' When readers finish this book, they will no longer look at the crusty old bark on the backyard maple without some wonder and curiosity. Beginning with one maple seed's fluttering fall and gentle landing on a rotting log, Thornhill ( The Wildlife ABC ; The Wildlife 1 2 3 ) narrates a 200-year saga rife with danger (many saplings are gobbled up by forest animals, fire explodes nearby in summer's dry heat) and transformation (a branch torn away in an ice storm leaves a hole that will house downy woodpeckers). Text and illustrations teem with life and change. Thornhill manages to capture enormous complexity with ease and serendipity (look for the porcupine sliding down an iced hill). Her strong, precise illustrations--calling to mind the artwork of Lynne Cherry--hint at another story in the background: the stream of changing cultures from Native Americans to pioneer settlers to farmers to industrial families to subdivision commuters. This compelling presentation of the interdependency and rhythmic round of life will surely nourish readers. Ages 4-8. ( Apr .)