cover image Ten Tall Oaktrees

Ten Tall Oaktrees

Richard Edwards. Tambourine Books, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-04620-0

The bouncy rhythm of Edwards's verse and the cheeriness of Crossland's illustrations cloak a serious topic--the depletion of the environment. Readers count down from 10--``Ten tall oaktrees / standing in a line, / `Warships,' cried King Henry, / Then there were nine''--as advancing civilization and quirks of nature destroy the trees one by one. Both text and art maintain an airy easiness that avoids blame: the highway bureaucrat seems no more culpable than the lightning, and past generations--not just the contemporary--lay claim to the trees. When the last oak is felled by a farmer who judges it a ``nuisance,'' the narrator falls silent. Wordless pictures signal a change in tone and historical setting: while walking the vacant land, a modern boy happens upon a single acorn. When he plants it in a pot, a sapling sprouts, auguring renewal. The subtle message will take root as readers revel in the pictures' period details and chime in on the lively lyrics. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)