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Jacob's Tree

Jacob's Tree

by Holly Keller

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The bright red line on the tree outside is proof that Jacob the bear hasn't grown even one inch! Jacob's mama says wait, and so does his papa, but Jacob hates being small. Luckily, happy days, hibernation, and a little patience transform a small bear into a not-so-small bear — with a new line on the tree to prove it — in Holly Keller's flawless and funny


The bright red line on the tree outside is proof that Jacob the bear hasn't grown even one inch! Jacob's mama says wait, and so does his papa, but Jacob hates being small. Luckily, happy days, hibernation, and a little patience transform a small bear into a not-so-small bear — with a new line on the tree to prove it — in Holly Keller's flawless and funny tribute to preschool concerns.

Author Biography: Holly Keller, author-artist of That's Mine, Horace, has written more than twenty books and illustrated as many written by other people. Among the most popular of her picture books are two previous books about Horace, Horace and Brave Horace, and several books about the feisty pig Geraldine. She is the mother of two grown children and lives with her pediatrician husband in Connecticut.In Her Own Words...

"Although I didn't realize that I was launching a wonderful career that would develop many years later, I wrote my first book for children when I was a senior at Hunter High School in New York City. Accepting the offer of my Latin teacher for me to do an extra translation to improve my grade, I produced a fully illustrated dummy of Little Red Riding Hood-in Latin, and set in the appropriate period of history. I also didn't know that it would be a long time before my artistic and intellectual interests would work together side by side quite so neatly again.

"I went to Sarah Lawrence College planning to study art, and ended up with a concentration in American history. I earned a Master's degree in history at Columbia University but never gave up my longing to draw and paint. Some years later I took a class in printmaking atManhattanville College, and it was there that everything started to come together. I was working on a series of etchings illustrating a tale by Rudyard Kipling, and my very wise teacher, John Ross, suggested children's books.

"By then I was the mother of two small children and lived with my pediatrician husband in a rural town in Connecticut. I used whatever quiet hours I could find to put together a portfolio, and what little energy remained to take a course in illustration at the Parsons School of Design. I arrived at Greenwillow in 1981 with a pile of drawings for stories that existed somewhere in my head. Susan Hirschman pulled one out and told me to go home and write the story-in a week, no less! Well, somehow I did it, and the sense of unity I had felt back in Latin class was mine again.

"Since that first book, which was called Cromwell's Glasses, there have been many, many stories. Some come from my own childhood (frequently changed just enough to make them turn out more to my liking!), some come from the experiences of my children, and, more recently, some have come from the places to which I have traveled.

"In all the years that I have been writing and illustrating children's books, it has never felt like work. Each new book brings me to a place I have never been before, and I am always excited and happy to be there."

Editorial Reviews

Horn Book Magazine
Jacob has one problem. He is smaller than everyone else in his family-"too small to reach the table," "too small to get a cookie from the cookie jar," and "too small to see himself in the mirror over the bathroom sink." Keller creates an endearing humanized bear family to illustrate this common problem of the youngest sibling. On a big elm tree in the yard, Papa draws a line to mark how tall Jacob is. "'Now you will be able to see how much you grow,' Papa said." Jacob tries his best to grow, wanting to do all the things enjoyed by his brother and sister. He exercises, eats his vegetables, and takes his vitamins, but the months and seasons roll by with no signs of change. Predictably, he has a happy surprise in the spring as a new, higher line is drawn on the elm tree. The warmly drawn domestic scenes, large and small, have simple charm, and the economical text encapsulates this universal predicament to perfection. Well shaped and satisfying, this story is sure to be a favorite of many small readers.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Sometimes growing doesn't happen fast enough. That's what the small bear cub believes. Jacob hates not being able to reach things, not being as able as his older siblings, pants that are too big, but most of all he hates waiting to grow. After a year of impatience, Jacob's physical growth is measurable. This improvement is matched by a confidence that gives Jacob the patience to wait for further growth. The most difficult part of parenting is watching children struggle with problems. Children's trials never go away nor do they get easier for parents to witness.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-Young children will identify with this gentle, unassuming story of a bear who longs to be bigger. Not only can't Jacob do certain things, such as see himself in the mirror, but it is also difficult and frustrating for him to keep up with his older brother and sister. He tries eating all of his vegetables and drinking his milk but he still can't speed up the growth process. Finally, spring arrives. Upon discovering that he can now see in the mirror, he bounds outside to check his height against the big elm tree where Papa had previously made a mark. The new mark is indeed higher. The text has great pacing and a careful set up of ideas that allows readers access into the cub's emotional turmoil. The book also gives a sense of the time continuum. Jacob achieves his immediate goal but finds that there's still much growing to do. The illustrations, done in pen and ink and watercolor, make this book immediately inviting. The bear family looks softly human and thoroughly huggable. Keller's precision and the clarity of her art create a believable and sweetly friendly world.-Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The familiar plight of the smallest is the subject of this picture book from Keller (Brave Horace, 1998, etc.), featuring a baby bear, who is smaller than his mother, father, and siblings. Jacob is frustrated when he can't reach the cookie jar, see himself in the mirror, or climb to the top of the jungle gym. Papa and Mama tell him he must wait to grow bigger, but Jacob hates waiting. Paint marks on a tree replace the traditional notches in a door frame to mark Jacob's height. No matter how many vegetables he eats, he doesn't grow; when the snows come, his mark is buried in a drift. After the snow melts, the reassuring ending finds Jacob grown, not only in stature but in maturity. The apple-cheeked characters are round and cuddly, while the homey, pen-and-watercolor scenes are ever-affable. At their center, the demonstrative Jacob is an everychild, learning to find joy in small measures. (Picture book. 3-5)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
8.41(w) x 10.34(h) x 0.57(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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