cover image The Ever-Living Tree

The Ever-Living Tree

Linda Vieira. Walker & Company, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8277-9

In an effort to convey the phenomenal 2000-year life span of a coastal sequoia, Vieira dates the stages of a tree's growth by making references to historic events. However, her ungainly presentation swamps the reader with blandly related, far-flung facts linked only by their synchronicity. The tree, for example, sprouts near the period of Alexander the Great (who ``perfected catapults in battle'' and ``spread the ideals of Greek civilization''); when China builds its Great Wall, the sequoia's deeply ridged bark looks ``like an apartment house for spiders.'' Lightning strikes and fells the tree (around the time ``gold was discovered in the western territories of the New World''), but its life force continues to nourish new trees. While the text mentions the native Ohlone tribe, the essentially Eurocentric approach begs for balance. First-time illustrator Canyon's carefully organized and fittingly framed paintings help somewhat to focus the reader's attention, but on the whole the work is dull. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)