Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bash adds to her Tree Tales series with a remarkable exploration of the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. Scientific information is presented in simple, poetic language that suggests the sounds and sights of the forest (``Bark beetles chew under the bark, engraving delicate galleries where they deposit their eggs''). The design, in which blocks of calligraphy-like text are set against sweeping spreads, permits leisurely wandering through the forest realms, from the bustling byways of a treetop canopy to the teeming waters of a stream. Lush watercolors depict the forest and its denizens, spotted salamanders and golden banana slugs along with the red tree voles and flying squirrels that make their homes in giant Douglas firs. Insets showing insects and fungi (magnification sizes are given) provide windows onto an otherwise hidden world. The gentle ending, in which wildfires and the felling of fir trees allow for the growth of new saplings, beautifully affirms the concept of a cycle of life. Ages 6-10. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
The Ancient Ones tells the tale of an old-growth forest. The illustrations are richly detailed; the animal drawings are lifelike. The accompanying text is succinct yet loaded with information. While the text is primarily for older readers, it also can be enjoyed by younger children as a read-aloud. Some illustrations are actual size, while microscopic flora and fauna are enlarged for readers to explore. The time-line on the inside cover gives a quick summation of the time it takes to grow a forest.
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
Author/artist Barbara Bash depicts the myriad life forms that gather around giant Douglas firs in the Northwest's shrinking old-growth forests. She moves from the canopy of the Ancient Ones' branches, where moss, lichen, murrelets, hummingbirds, squirrels and others of their ilk traffic, to the termites, millipedes, sowbugs, and microscopic bacteria that turn fallen trees into the earth from which new ones will sprout. As in Ms. Bush's previous works, this is an eloquent argument for the preservation of an endangered species.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6-A wondrous walk through an old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest. As readers enter the cathedral quietness of the Douglas fir-dominated landscape, the unique ecosystem and its varied components are revealed, from the trees themselves, with their peculiar and long life cycle, to the myriad creatures that inhabit the lush environment. Pileated woodpeckers, brown bats, flying squirrels, red tree voles, and, of course, the spotted owl are introduced and placed in context. Delving deeper, the insects and even the microorganisms that are an integral part of this remarkable world are delineated. Children will be drawn into the text by having to search the oversized pictures for the animals and plants being discussed. Deeply toned watercolors reflect the darkness of this shaded but richly alive biome. Their clarity and detail make them supremely suited for the journey described. This book delivers its message in an appended ``Author's Note.'' Bash makes it clear that a forest isn't just a group of trees-it is a well-defined, interdependent system of organisms that relies on a unique set of circumstances to continue to exist. Reading Ancient Ones is truly the next best thing to being there.-Steve Matthews, Foxcroft School, Middleburg, VA
In the Pacific Northwest, a Douglas fir seedling reaches skyward, growing to 300 feet and living, perhaps, for five centuries. In Bash's stunning new book, the complex life of these trees becomes an ecology lesson wrapped in a miracle of natural wonder. Every part of the tree, at every stage of development, harbors life with no waste. An intricate balance exists among the birds, animals, insects, and plants that find a home there. Fallen trees in streams not only clean the water, but also host additional plants and animals. And so the cycle continues, one living thing creating an opportunity for another--until a forest fire ensures the completion of the cycle. The boxed calligraphic text describes these invaluable forest assets, now greatly diminished and threatened. Bash's lush paintings draw the reader right into the forest. Precise, and elegant in rich greens and browns, the paintings capture flora and fauna with reverence. Once again, as in "Desert Giant: The World of the Saguaro Cactus" (1989) and "Tree of Life: The World of the African Baobab" (1989), Bash fits together all the pieces of a puzzle to uncover the hidden mystery of a botanical giant.
Read an Excerpt
Walking into an old-growth forest, you enter a strangely silent world. The eart feels moist and springy underfoot, and the air is thick with the fragrance of decomposing needles. Lichen-covered logs crisscross the forest floor, and moss clings to the towering trunks. At first, it all seems to quiet and still. But after a while, you start to relax--and begin to really look and listen.
High overhead, in the canopy of branches, a bird warbles softly. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a seed (or is is a pine needle?) drift lazily to the cushioned floor. This is the world of the Ancient Ones--silent, enormous, and full of secrets.