Listen to the Language of the Trees: A story of how forests communicate underground – words by Tera Kelley, Pictures by Marie Hermansson


          Listen to the Language of the Trees: A story of how forests communicate underground – words by Tera Kelley, Pictures by Marie Hermansson, Sourcebooks, 2022.  9781728232171 

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

Format: Paperback ARC (published March 2022)

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book? Although this is technically fiction, it explains in detail – with full-page and sometimes two-page – illustrations just how a little fir tree comes to be and grow.  At the same time it explains in simple detail the underground communication involved in the life of trees with the assistance of fungi.  “The trees talked to each other through their roots.  They spoke of danger – of drought and of pests.  They spoke of what one tree needed and another had to give.”  Big trees can assist in the growth of the smaller trees around them.  When a large tree is struck by lightning, the threads of fungi can shoot nutrients into the roots to help the tree survive.  As the tree had given, it is now given back to.  Beautifully detailed illustrations, that are likely created digitally, complement the text perfectly.

End pages, with photographs, explain the science that was introduced in the story along with additional science for teachers and parents.  Simple activities involving seeds are included along with one that shows the cooperation of animals and other plants that is essential to a healthy life for plants, animals and humans.

Anything you did not like about the book?  Not a thing

To whom would you recommend this book? There is an abundance of books about trees being published right now.  You could pair this one with The Second Life of Trees by Aimee M. Bissonette, The Wisdom of Trees by Todd Stewart and The Things that I Love about Trees by Chris Butterworth.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Picture books or 582.16

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Contributor Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review: December 8, 2021

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