Review of The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom

The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom
by Lita Judge; illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate    Roaring Brook    48 pp.    g
3/21    978-1-250-23707-1    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-250-82924-5    $10.99

Scientists are learning that trees communicate with one another, and with other species, by sending chemical and electrical signals. These “instant messages,” often transmitted through fungi partners entwined with tree roots, share information about soil conditions, warn of attacks from insects, and send calls for help when a tree is in distress. Judge thoroughly explains the many ways in which trees and the organisms that live in, under, and near them form complex and interdependent ecosystems. She emphasizes cooperation, rather than competition, to highlight the ways they help other species and trees in their immediate areas. The volume’s well-organized layout runs scientific information down a column far to the right side of each double-page spread, while short poems imagining what trees are saying can be found mostly to the left, overlaying the illustrations. In the poems, the trees speak solemnly, their communications translated into the voices of wise matriarchs caring for all living things. Central to the layouts are the figures themselves: grand stands of North American and European trees, beautifully portrayed with twisty branches, fluttering leaves, and intricate root complexes. The perspectives shift with each turn of the page, from human eye level to a bird’s overhead view, and then down on and under the forest floor. Extensive notes in the back matter provide additional details about the species in each illustration, as well as lists of resources and a glossary.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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