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SB&F's Throwback Thursday: Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the Trees

A look back through our archives for classic books still worth reading.

Established in 1919, Children's Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year, commemorative events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, and homes. To celebrate Children’s Book Week, we take a fond look back at one of AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize Lifetime Achievement honoree Jim Arnosky’s books featuring the beloved character Crinkleroot. Born in a tree and raised by bees, Crinkleroot has been delighting children since 1977.

Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the Trees. (Illus.) NY Bradbury 1992.

LEVEL:   K-6

Arnosky's book is the most attractive botany book for children that I have seen for some time. Its age appeal is broad: The illustrations will engage tots, while the scientific information, which is very compact, will attract older students. Not only does the author point out the value of living trees, but he describes the ecological importance of both dead standing trees and fallen ones. He shows how abiotic factors, such as the texture of soil and snow, influence tree morphology. Because Arnosky has chosen to write a general book on trees, rather than a regional one, there are some generalizations that may puzzle some people. For example, he opens with a "giant oak tree," but some oak trees in the U.S. are only one meter tall. The reference to evergreen cypress trees will puzzle children in Louisiana and Florida, because their bald cypress sheds each winter. Also, the box elder has a compound (trifoliate) leaf, not a simple one, and Osage orange rarely passes muster as a tree, but it is a beautiful shrub. Arnosky is a masterful illustrator and has important awards to document his prowess as an artist and a naturalist. This book is another winner. Children will be attracted to browse in it, but will stay on to study.—Jane H. Bock, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 


Check out our Throwback Thursday Archives for more great classic reviews.