Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree

Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree

Kate Messner
Illustrator:  Simona Mulazzani 
Nonfiction picture book
For aged 5 to 7
Chronicle Books, 2015   ISBN: 978-1452112480

Deep in a rainforest stands an almendro tree. What may not be obvious at first is that this tree provides food and lodging for more than a thousand living things. Some animals travel through the forest to dine on the tree’s flowers and fruit; others hide among its leaves and have homes tucked in around its buttressed roots. If we look closely we will see some of these creatures.

Up in the branches green macaws fly, drawn to the tree by the scent of ripe fruit. A pair has a nest in a hollow and they will use this nest year after year to raise their chicks. Next, we see four Keel-billed toucans who also like to dine on the fruit, and they are joined by a troop of eight howler monkeys. These large and very loud monkeys help to distribute the tree’s seeds as they carry its fruit around the forest.

The almendro serves as a home to hundreds of blue morpho butterflies, poison dart frogs, rusty wandering spiders and leafcutter ants. These small creatures sip fruit juice, hunt insects, and cut leaves as they move about the great tree.

Throughout this fact-packed, beautifully illustrated book, lyrical sections of text take readers through the ever multiplying world of creatures that love in a rainforest tree. On every page the image-rich short main section of text is accompanied by a longer more factual section of text in a side bar. Little silhouettes in the side bar show children how many of each animal can be found in and around the tree, and the numbers get bigger and bigger as we turn the pages.

At the back of the book readers will find further information about almendro trees and they will also discover that there is a pattern to the numbers in the book. This pattern is further explained in terms that will appeal to children in a range of ages.