Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
According to African legend, each animal was given a tree to plant by the Great Spirit. When the hyena was assigned the baobab tree, the careless animal planted it upside down--``and that is why its branches look like gnarled roots.'' With this intriguing bit of folklore, Bash proceeds to unfold the life cycle of this majestic bastion of the African savannah. Frequently measuring 60 feet tall and 40 feet across, these giants ``outlive nearly everything on earth''--their life span is over 1000 years. In this compelling and moving account, the baobab stands proud and stately as a vivid panoply of activity unfolds within its sprawling branches. With stirring landscapes and lavishly detailed closeups, Bash's realistic watercolors bring this profusion to vibrant life. Finally, an old tree dies and ``collapses in on itself, a melted heap of ruins.'' A seed sprouts, a new baobab tree begins to grow and life continues. One of nature's great lessons is recreated dramatically in this stirring book. Ages 6-10. (Dec.)
Children's Literature - Leila Toledo
The life of the baobab tree is fascinating and active. Children will enjoy the array of animals that take sustenance from the tree. Usually when I think of a tree, I think of an inanimate object whose only activity takes place during the changing of the seasons. This tree truly has an active life, which includes tiny insects, enormous elephants and even man. An exciting and educational story for children.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-- This handsome book presents a year in the life of the peculiar African baobab tree. Large two-page watercolor illustrations show the habitat of this unusual tree--the dry savannah--and provide close-ups of its odd denizens: exotic birds, colorful insects, strange bats, bushbabies, baboons, and other animals of the African veldt. The tree's enormous trunk (shown spread across two pages and then dwarfing a pair of elephants) and its gnarled, rootlike branches are graphically depicted; its vivid, nectar-filled white flowers are displayed against the black background of night. The text is written in easily read calligraphy, adding to the attractive format. The cycle of growth, ending with rebirth (of a new seedling) at the book's end and the description of the tree's symbiotic relationship with man and beast effectively presents the ecology theme. An attractive, unusual nature lesson. --Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Read an Excerpt
In the oldest times, as the !Kung Bushmen of Africa tell the story, the Great Spirit gave each animal a tree to plant. Hyena arrived late and was given the very last tree, the baobab. Being a careless creature, he planted it upside downand that is why its branches look like gnarled roots.