We Planted a Tree
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We Planted a Tree

3.5 6
by Diane Muldrow, Bob Staake

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We planted a tree and it grew up,

While it reached for the sky and the sun. . . .

In this simple poem illustrated by award winner Bob Staake, two young families in two very different parts of the world plant a tree. As the trees flourish, so do the families . . . while trees all over the world help clean the air, enrich the soil, and give fruit and


We planted a tree and it grew up,

While it reached for the sky and the sun. . . .

In this simple poem illustrated by award winner Bob Staake, two young families in two very different parts of the world plant a tree. As the trees flourish, so do the families . . . while trees all over the world help clean the air, enrich the soil, and give fruit and shade.

With a nod to Kenya’s successful Green Belt Movement, Diane Muldrow’s elegant text celebrates the life and hope that every tree—from Paris to Brooklyn to Tokyo—brings to our planet. Perfect for young readers!

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carollyne Hutter
"We planted a tree and it grew up." This picture book follows two families in different parts of the world—Kenya and United States—as they plant a tree and the tree grows. Delightful, colorful illustrations show the seasons changing and the trees blossoming, providing shade, cleaning the air, giving sap and fruit, and many other vital services. The poetic text and illustrations travel around the globe to Brooklyn, Tokyo, Paris, Vermont, and the Mediterranean all in praise of trees. This book is perfect for children to learn how useful trees are all over the world. It can be used in celebration of Earth Day and Arbor Day and in science units. Moreover, it is a resource for teaching poetry. All ages will be attracted to the charming presentation. Reviewer: Carollyne Hutter
Children's Literature - Dawna Lisa Buchanan
Vivid illustrations portray families from around the world and in different contexts (e.g., cities and countries, urban and rural) celebrating the power of planting a tree. The text is cumulative and uses clear, descriptive language: "We planted a tree. We planted a tree and it grew up...We planted a tree and it grew up, while it reached for the sky and the sun. The sunshine went into the leaves and brought food to the tree, and the tree grew up." Each illustration is a double-page spread. One shows an Asian family strolling across a bridge, under which two pink-cheeked children row and a man and his son feed fish. The message is simple. Different kinds of trees are featured, so we learn that trees clean the air and brighten the day with blossoms. Some provide shade and fruit to eat, while others give sap to make syrup. Trees keep the soil from blowing away so that we can grow food, and they offer shelter to animals and birds. The story concludes: "We planted a tree and it grew up, and so did we." This is a lovely and lyrical book to share with young children at home or in the classroom. Reviewer: Dawna Lisa Buchanan
Publishers Weekly
As Staake shows families around the world planting trees and enjoying their gifts, Muldrow sets an incantatory mood: “We planted a tree./ We planted a tree and it grew up.” Each spread bubbles with retro-styled, wide-eyed exuberance; it's a kick to see how Staake wields geometry as he gleefully globe-trots, wrapping his curvilinear-inclined aesthetic around locales as far flung as the African savanna, downtown Paris, Brooklyn, and snowy New England. Its unconditional joy and exuberance stand out. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Using a quote from Wangari Maathai as a springboard, Muldrow's poem delineates the tree's seasonal cycles and celebrates its benefits for living creatures. In natural language, the narrator adopts a global view, lauding her subject's abilities to cool the earth, clean the air and prevent erosion ("The tree kept the soil from blowing away- / Now rainwater could stay in the earth"). Staake is an accomplished illustrator with many New Yorker covers under his belt. His ultra-stylized depictions rove from Brooklyn to a presumed African plain, to Tokyo, Paris, New England and possibly the Cinque Terre (though one where apples and lemons yield concurrently), riding roughshod over the poet's delicate allusions. The stripped-down computer-generated pictures vie with the ecology-focused subject rather than extending it, and the pie-eyed, inane expressions of the humans depicted around the globe flirt visually with the stereotypical cultural caricatures common to the mid-century European advertising posters that the illustrator credits as influences. Consider instead other children's works inspired by Maathai, such as Donna Jo Napoli's Mama Miti, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (2010). (Picture book. 4-8)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4—With a synergistic mesh of lyrical language and bright, expansive illustrations, this picture book enumerating the many benefits of trees is a winner. Muldrow's poetic text shapes beauty from simple observations: "The sunshine went into the buds,/And soon they burst open./Everywhere it was pink./And we were dizzy/With springtime." As the text describes the growth of the tree and the many benefits it provides (shade, clean air, fruit, sap, and holding the soil, among others), Staake's signature modernized cartoon-style illustrations circle the globe, showing families in New York, Vermont, Japan, Kenya, France, and Italy as they enjoy what the trees have to offer. Enjoyable and informative, this beautiful presentation of a clear ecological message is perfect for sharing on Earth Day, Arbor Day, or in ecology units.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.40(d)
AD620L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

DIANE MULDROW, an editorial director at Golden Books, has written dozens of children’s books. She is the author of the bestselling Everything I Need to Know series, and she edited Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children’s Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way by Leonard Marcus.

BOB STAAKE is the creator of many books for children, including My Pet Book; Bluebird; The Red Lemon, a 2006 New York Times Best Illustrated Book; The Donut Chef, a Children’s Choice Book Awards finalist; and Look! A Book! He’s also a prolific and highly acclaimed commercial illustrator whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Time, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.

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We Planted a Tree 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Erma2 More than 1 year ago
Bob Staake, the illustrator is amazing. We own everything we can get our hands on that he has drawn. His children's books are multilayered, but easy to understand. Our kids use them to learn to draw as well as loving the stories. All we can say is MORE MORE MORE!
Grandma_Patty More than 1 year ago
A good way to teach children to take care of the environment is to give them books that teach them about the importance of doing just that. They love to read so I accomplish two things at once by giving them this book. They called me, very excited, after they got it to read it to me on the telephone.
psycheKK More than 1 year ago
We Planted a Tree is a sweet story that is told through a gentle, lulling poem.  Diane Muldrow manages to explain the benefits of trees without lecturing and in a way that is a delight to read out loud.  And in a way that an active four-year-old boy can understand and enjoy. Bob Staake illustrated this lovely poem-story, so that should automatically translate as the artwork in the is book is brilliant.  If you are not familiar with Mr. Staake's work, it is brilliant; both as in colorful-brilliant and in clever-brilliant, and infused with a healthy dose of humor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kathleen Sparrow More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book for use on my iPad and AFTER payment it said it was "not compatible on this device" Feels like I've been tricked. Terrible.