Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A logger tutors his granddaughter when she goes to live with him for a summer. Narrator Sophie watches deer in the cold dawn and learns to identify trees by sight and touch as her grandfather, in contrast to his clear-cutting neighbors, selectively cuts maples, leaving "the wind-firm trees, the tallest and the biggest" to resow the soil. Shetterly's (The Tinker of Salt Cove) narrative takes a few abrupt turns (e.g., a scene with the girl and her mother shifts immediately to one of the girl's grandfather teaching her the names of trees), but she studs her text with poetic description. Debut illustrator McCall's oil paintings evoke the awe in spotting a black bear or the glow of birch bark as daylight fades. While human faces and figures are somewhat awkwardly rendered, the hazily atmospheric natural landscapes effectively conjure the look of predawn mist and oxen exhaling clouds in frigid air. The book's title--a description of how big trees protect the smaller ones--is indicative of the diverse ways of nurturing represented within this volume, including how the natural world nourishes people. Ages 8-11. (Oct.) FYI: A 96-page teacher's guide is available ($9.95 -211-1). Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Joyce Rice
Sophie's grandfather lives in a house surrounded by forests. Many of his neighbors are selling their land and cutting down all the trees. Sophie's grandfather wants to pass along his love for the forest to his granddaughter. Told as an adventure between a grandfather and his granddaughter, this tale introduces readers to the necessary balance between the needs of people and the protection of our natural resources. Sophie learns all about the forest, and the creatures that live there. Her grandfather teaches her about responsibility, tradition and encourages a love of nature as he tutors her about his forest. Students who are studying ecosystems and protection of the environment should red this book. Note: A teacher's guide that provides classroom activities for developing a study unit on forests is sold separately.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Sophie's grandfather is a conscientious logger, caring for his woods in the hope that they will last for generations to come. When the child spends the summer with him, he begins to pass on his knowledge, teaching her to tell the different trees apart, what they need to grow and thrive, and about woodland ecology. The narrative alternates between the nostalgic and the pedantic, too contemplative to work well as a read-aloud and too loosely episodic to hold independent readers' attention. Though information-packed, the text, does not smoothly meld fact and story. The illustrations are another case entirely. Lovely and impressionistic, these oils are rendered in a combination of broad, blurred strokes and clear detail that bring the woods to life. They give the narrative a context and atmosphere that it might otherwise lack. Shelterwood may be best used in teaching situations in which ecological issues are under discussion. Not many other books take on an illustration of the difference between clear-cutting and selective logging. For other, more readable introductions to the subject, try Jane Yolen's Owl Moon (Philomel, 1987).-Ann Welton, Terminal Park Elementary School, Auburn, WA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Both Susan Hand Shetterly, author, and Rebecca Haley McCall, illustrator, have created a marvelous introduction to a small forest. They provoke questions of the reader as the grandfather introduces his inquisitive granddaughter to the many lives of and in the forest. The grandfather shows her simple tricks for telling a sugar maple from a red maple, a spruce from a pine. His artful description of a tamarack as a tree that "has trouble making up its mind" (pg. 24) is delightful, because the tamarack is both deciduous and a conifer. From beginning to end, this book is a treat. Highly Recommended, Grades 3-6, General Audience. REVIEWER: Dr. Michael T. Stieber (The Morton Arboretum)