Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A year around the great Oak

A year around the great Oak

Gerda Muller
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Floris Books, 2013   ISBN: 978-0863159466

It is autumn and Benjamin and Anna are visiting their cousin Robin and his parents at their house, which is “right on the edge of the forest.” Uncle John is a forester and he knows the forest like the back of his hand. Robin also knows the forest well and he takes his cousins to see his favorite tree, which is an oak tree that is nearly three hundred years old.

   Robin’s tree is beautiful and big, and birds, mammals, and other animals live in and around it.  Near the tree the children use sticks and bracken to make a play den for themselves and from it they watch squirrels collecting acorns for the winter and see a hawk chasing a pigeon.

   Anna helps Uncle John plant a baby apple tree the next day, and she knows that when she comes to the house in the forest in the years to come she will be able to eat the fruit that the tree produces.

   Anna and Benjamin go back and see the great oak in winter, and then in the spring, when the forest is coming alive with new growth, flowers, and baby animals. One night Uncle John and the children watch as badgers come to the pond to drink.  On his last night in the forest Benjamin returns to the great oak and from a perch in the branches he watches an owl family. Then Benjamin hears a sound and a group of wild boars comes to the pond. Benjamin knows that boars can be dangerous so he stays up in the tree and waits. The tree will protect him until it is safe for him to come down.

   With gorgeous illustrations and an engaging story, Gerda Miller takes us into a forest where we get to be a part of Great Oak’s magical world for a little while. Young readers will appreciate the simple adventures that the children have in autumn, winter, spring and summer when they visit the tree, and they will appreciate that trees like the Great Oak are to be loved and cherished.