"Are trees alive? How do they breathe? They don't have noses."
And so begins a conversation between the author and her daughter that leads to a remarkable discovery: Trees are like children in so many ways! They may look very different from people, but trees have roots that hold them to the ground like feet and leaves that blow in the wind like hair. Their bark even comes in different colors, just like our skin.
From this poetic comparison of plants and humans, readers will learn how trees live and grow, and how they get their food. They will learn about the baobab trees of Africa, the banyan trees of India, and the bristlecone pines of California. They will see, through Stacey Schuett's exquisite art, that trees come in all shapes and sizes-just like people-and provide a home to many different animals. But most of all, they will look at trees with greater respect and a bit of awe, after realizing that trees are alive too.
About the Author
Debbie Miller has written many acclaimed children's books, including Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Stacey Schuett has illustrated many popular books for children, including her own Somewhere in the World Right Now. From her studio window, she enjoys a view of her backyard, home to many oak, redwood, and fruit trees. Stacey lives in Northern California.
Read an Excerpt
Long roots wiggle through the soil. They gather water and minerals that trees need to grow. Roots anchor a tree, like your feet help you stand.
Sturdy trunk's stand short and tall. A trunk supports the body of a tree, like your legs support your body.
Branches hold animals, the nests of birds, swings, and tree houses. They sway gently, in the wind, like a mother's arms rocking a baby.
Bark is dark or light, rough or smooth, thick or thin, just like people's skin. Bark protects the inside of a tree from harsh weather and insects, like your skin protects you.
The crown of a tree reaches for the sky and gathers sunlight. A crown is at the top of a tree, like your head is at the top of your body. The branches and leaves of a large crown give you lots of shade on a hot summer day.
Leaves breathe for the tree. Trees need air just like you need air. Instead of using noses and lungs; leaves breathe through thousands of tiny pores known as stomata. Leaves flutter in the breeze like your hair blows in the wind.
Sticky sap travels through small tubes inside the tree, between the roots and the leaves. Without sap, the tree could not live, just like your body could not live without blood. Look at the veins in a leaf and compare them to the veins in your hand. Some tree sap is harvested by people.
Trees grow flowers of all shapes and sizes, of bright and soft colors. A pretty flower can attract insects and birds, just like your smiling face can attract a new friend. Animals feed on the nectar and pollen of the flowers. They help spread the pollen so that treescan make seeds and grow fruits.
Some seeds are tiny and fluffy and fly with the wind. Others are protected inside their fruit. The coconut tree grows the largest seed on Earth. Seeds sprout and become saplings, then grow up to be trees. Just like babies become children, then grow up to be adults.
Some trees die because of fires, disease, or storm damage. Many trees are cut down by people for their wood. But some trees live to be very, very old, just like some people live more than 100 years.
Excerpted from Are Trees Alive? by Debbie S. Miller. Copyright © 2002 by Debbie S. Miller. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.