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Around the Oak

Around the Oak

by Gerda Muller

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Reigning as the 300-year-old centerpiece of the forest, a spreading oak tree inspires the seasonal explorations of three youngsters. Ben and Caroline visit their cousin Nick, who lives in the woods with his mom and forest ranger dad. On a fall weekend the children, picnicking beneath the tree, spot a hawk chasing a pigeon; the next day they return and pick chanterelles. During Christmas vacation they ski under the tree and meet screech owls and a marten. They listen to woodcocks and watch badgers and deer drink from a water hole during spring break, and they collect insects, feathers, lichen and fruit in the summer. The easily evoked setting permits the characters to express their affinity for nature believably and readily. Muller's text flows spontaneously, effortlessly dispensing facts--and each successive reading seems to sprout new observations. Invitingly clear, almost folkloric paintings and drawings render the oak and its environs accurately and imaginatively. For curious naturalists, an illustrated supplement amplifies the information contained within the story. Ages 7-11. (June)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A nature lesson in story format. Once each season, Ben and Caroline visit their cousin Nick, who lives in a house in a forest clearing. With the help of Uncle Hank, a forest ranger, the children observe the wildlife in the vicinity of a 300-year-old oak. They learn about some of the animals' habits as well as a bit about ecology, pollution, and the life cycle of the tree. Muller has appended several pages of diagrams and illustrations that contain tidbits of additional information, and several identification pages with clear likenesses of forest birds, leaves, plants, and mushrooms. Acrylic paintings done in a primitive, realistic style have a charm akin to that of Barbara Cooney's work. Vivid colors change with each season, and tiny details abound. Although the book was originally published in Germany, all of the flora and fauna can be found in the U.S. and Canada as well. This title cannot compete in terms of informational content with the abundant factual literature available on the topic for the same age group, but might be read in preparation for a nature hike.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Stephanie Zvirin
It's the detailed artwork and the information contained in this book that will draw youngsters, not the fabricated, fictional story. When Caroline and Ben ("Garden in the City", 1992) make a fall visit to their cousin Nick, whose dad is a forest ranger, the children can't wait to go exploring. The old oak tree Nick takes them to inspires their investigations of the wildlife of the area, and on successive visits (winter, spring, and summer), the children return to it as a guidepost for seasonal change. In summer, they celebrate its long life with a special birthday party, complete with balloons and streamers. Landscapes, striking and precise, make us privy to all manner of forest activity while smaller pictures detail specific varieties of flora and fauna. Muller also integrates some intriguing botanical facts. Even though this German import pictures some unfamiliar species, children who collect forest scraps will be entranced by the close-up drawings. Buy this for the enchanting pictures and for the homage it pays to the natural world.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st American ed
Product dimensions:
8.34(w) x 11.57(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range:
8 Years

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