The Cottonwood Tree – Serena Mangus, illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan

The Cottonwood Tree – Serena Mangus, illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan, Tilbury House Publishers, (9780884488569), 2021

Format:  Hardcover

Rating: 1- 5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Non-fiction Picture Book

What did you like about the book?  This beautiful picture book is an autobiography of a cottonwood tree.  Told in the first person, the reader follows the cottonwood tree as it grows from seed to sprout to seedling to sapling to tree.  We watch the tree age as it is visited over time by a boy who grows up as well and returns with his own children and grandchildren.  Throughout its life, the tree is home to a variety of birds, insects, and animals and is a resource for even more.  Each double page spread continues the story of the tree while further scientific information is also included in smaller font within the illustrations.  Readers learn not only about the cottonwood tree itself, but also about the wildlife around it. Tidbits include information on mallard ducks, the cottonwood borer beetle, beavers, and a Native American tale about the cottonwood tree.   Each double page spread concludes with a couplet highlighting another facet of the tree’s life: “I am nature’s nursery,” “I am a lookout tower,” “I am nature’s lumberyard”, and “I am a natural legend,” followed always by “I am a cottonwood tree.”  Even when a winter storm fells the 80-year-old tree, new growth holds promise: “I endure. I am a cottonwood tree.”  The beautiful watercolor illustrations bring the ecosystem of the cottonwood tree to life.  This is a wonderful story for budding naturalists.  Included are an Author’s Note, Glossary and Further Reading.  

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Young naturalists will love this fascinating look at the cottonwood tree.  

Who should buy this book?  Public Libraries and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it? 583.65

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles?  No.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review:  7/9/2021         

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