Barnes & Noble Staff
A man walks into a lush rain forest and starts chopping down a huge kapok tree. Lulled by the heat, he sits down and soon falls asleep. The forest dwellers approach, each pleading in his ear a reason to keep the tree standing. Suddenly, the man wakes up, and for the first time notices the beauty all around him. Will he still chop down the tree? The beauty of Cherry's art helps to convey an important message in this environmental tale.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this breathtakingly beautiful picture book, Cherry combines illustrations that reveal a naturalist's reverence for beauty with a mythlike story that explains the ecological importance of saving the rain forests. The text is not a didactic treatise, but a simply told story about a man who falls asleep while chopping down a kapok tree. The forest's inhabitants--snakes, butterflies, a jaguar, and finally a child--each whisper in his ear about the terrible consequences of living in ``a world without trees'' or beauty, about the interconnectedness of all living things. When the man awakens and sees all the extraordinary creatures around him, he leaves his ax and ``walks out of the rain forest.'' A map showing the earth's endangered forests and the creatures that dwell within ends the book which, like the rain forests themselves, is ``wondrous and rare.'' Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
When a man enters the forest to cut down a giant Kapok tree he is lulled to sleep by the heat and hum of the forest. As if in a dream, he is visited by creatures large and small, who educate him about what is at risk by the damage he intends. Sense of community, interdependency, oxygenation, and harmony are some of the balances that are made precarious by his intention. Finally, a Yanamamo Indian child asks the man to wake and see the forest with new eyes. The man does so; he sees the beauty and leaves the forest, dropping his ax on the way. Lynne Cherry grew up loving nature, drawing and writing. All three support this book by reaching right into the hearts of children and adults.
Children's Literature - Debra Briatico
In this modern fable, a man enters the Brazilian rainforest to chop down a great kapok tree. Exhausted from his labors, he puts down his ax and falls asleep at the foot of the tree. During his slumber, the rainforest animals emerge one-by-one and plead with him not to destroy their world. When the man wakes up, he notices the beauty of the rainforest and its creatures and decides to spare the tree.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-- Exhausted from heat and exertion, a lone man rests at the base of a Kapok tree that he is intent on felling. As he dozes, the animal residents of the enormous tree come to him, explain the tree's vital importance to their existence, and gently implore him to reconsider his labors. Lastly, a child of the Yanomamo tribe begs him to ``please look upon us all with new eyes.'' He awakens to the menagerie assembled and seems to see them for the first time. The man departs, leaving his ax behind. This thinly veiled nature and conservation lesson succeeds in giving a simplified picture of the rain forest--from its canopy to its dense understory--and the interdependence of all the plant and animal life that exists within this fragile, shrinking ecosystem. Cherry's rich colored-pencil and watercolor drawings fairly buzz with life. She totally engages readers' attention and senses through vivid detail, dramatic perspective, and lifelike accuracy. The flora and fauna of the lush, steamy Brazilian rain forest seem to grow before readers' eyes, surrounding the text and the peaceful young man as he sleeps. Although the talking animals somewhat diminish the power of the message and undermine its seriousness, The Great Kapok Tree gives young readers a glimpse of and a feeling for an environment vastly different from their own. Spectacular endpapers include a map of the world's tropical rain forests and the amazing array of Amazon wildlife.-- Luann Toth , School Library Journal
Exceptionally colorful, bright and full of life...Effectively makes specific the larger story of endangered rain forests by taking the problem one creature at a time.
From the Publisher
"Exceptionally colorful, bright and full of life. . . . Effectively makes specific the larger story of endangered rain forests by taking the problem one creature at a time."—People
"Spectacular."—School Library Journal
"This modern fable with its urgent message contains an abundance of information."The Horn Book