Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE WISDOM OF TREES by Lita Judge Kirkus Star


How Trees Work Together To Form a Natural Kingdom

by Lita Judge ; illustrated by Lita Judge

Pub Date: March 2nd, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-250-23707-1
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

In poetry, prose, and art, examples from around the world teach both basic botany and current, even cutting-edge, research about trees.

Each double-page spread includes detailed watercolor art, a short, titled poem, and prose paragraphs that extend each poem’s meaning. As the text explains: “The poems in this book reveal what trees might say if they did use words.” The poems are written in an accessible free verse with a pleasing rhythm and near rhymes, and they include sly homage to both Shakespearean verse and more modern memes. Equally accessible prose introduces readers to the humorously—but appropriately—designated Wood Wide Web, which allows trees long-distance, intra-tree communication through mycorrhizal fungi at their roots. That knowledge, and the tale of savvy, giraffe-battling acacias, will be familiar to readers of Peter Wohlleben’s Can You Hear the Trees Talking? (2019). This text goes further by stressing cooperation rather than competition among different tree species and, indeed, by declaring that trees are the entire planet’s “best defense against climate change.” There are excellent explanations of standard topics such as photosynthesis along with revelations about how many insect species were found on one tree in Costa Rica, why most of Malaysia’s tualang trees are protected (home to Asian rock bees, a type of honeybee), and the urgent necessity of reforestation. Final pages offer further information, organized by the poem titles. With the exception of some awkwardly depicted animals, the illustrations complement the text’s quality of reverence. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 38.9% of actual size.)

Recommended reading, from mycorrhizal fungi to canopy.

(glossary, sources, websites) (Informational picture book/poetry. 8-12)