Book Review: Trees by Lemniscates

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Ages 2-5

Written and Illustrated by Lemniscates. Candlewick Studio: Somerville, 2015

What the Book is About

Mixed media illustrations all about trees. How they change, where they grow, how they communicate and who benefits from having them around. A great way to encourage young children to explore the world.

About this post

Below I have highlighted different ways to incorporate pre-literacy skills to engage the listener and build reading skills. You won’t use each skill in every reading, but with each reading, pick a few different skills to highlight and use those suggestions.

Print Awareness and Print Motivation

When you read the book point out the title. Have the listener trace the letters with his finger. Ask what he thinks the book is about. What else does he see on the front cover? Point out the different tree shapes and sizes and have the child show you the tallest or most round tree.

Open the book and use your finger to underline the title and author. Remind the listener that the author writes the words and the illustrator draws the pictures. Sometimes, like this book the author and the illustrator are the same person.

This encourages Print Awareness and Print Motivation which orients the child to the parts of the book as well as leads the child to think about reading before it happens, deepening reading comprehension.

Narrative Skills

Build a dialog with the book. In the opening pages, ask the child what season it looks like outside your own windows. Are there leaves on the trees? Do you see the grass? What is the temperature, hot or cold?

As you read the story, stop and talk about the illustrations. For example, in the story text, the roots are referred to as feet. Talk about how this is a metaphor because roots are like the feet of the tree. Another page says the trees talk to each other and this is called communication. Ask how she believes trees communicate? What do you think trees talk about? If you were a tree, where would you live? By the river, in the wilderness or in the city?

Letter Knowledge

Using the title page, what letters do you see? Are any of them in your name?

Phonological Awareness

This isn’t a rhyming book, but there are ways to incorporate this important skill as a follow up to a reading. Come up with a rhyming tree. Ask the listener, what rhymes with tree? Draw a picture of a tree and for each rhyming word make a branch on the tree. The leaves can be silly words that rhyme but aren’t real words.

There are a lot of great finger plays, poems, songs and rhymes available online.

Apple Tree from letsplaykidsmusic.com

Apple tree, apple tree,

Will your apple fall on me?

I won’t cry, I won’t shout,

If your apple knocks me out!

You can also make up your own rhyme to a familiar song like this one sung to the tune The Wheels on the Bus:

The branches on the tree go up and down

up and down, up and down

The branches on the tree go up and down

In the breeze.

The leaves on the tree swing to and fro

To and fro, To and fro

The leaves on the tree swing to and fro

In the breeze.

The birds in the tree flap their wings

Flap their wings, Flap their wings

The birds in the tree flap their wings

In the breeze.

Take it Further

Go on a tree scavenger hunt. Look for different trees in your neighborhood or at a local park. Collect leaves, take notes on how the bark feels, how the branches grow, does the tree have fruit, etc. When home, make rubbings of the leaves with crayons and make a leaf book. Write the name of the tree and its characteristics.

The book’s illustrations are in mixed media, which means a variety of art techniques are used to make the pictures. Make your own mixed media pictures experimenting with texture, paint, paper, crayons, colored pencils and more to draw your own wilderness scene.

Don’t forget to post pictures in the comments below to share your child’s creativity!

Happy Reading!

Book Review: A is for Africa By Michael Samulak

  • A is for Africa. Michael I Samulak and Illustrated by Sswaga Sendiba. Trafford Publishing: Victoria, 2008.
  • Preschool

A is for Africa is an alphabet book with the peoples and animals and traditions that center around Uganda. The pictures are bright and beautiful artwork that will take you on a journey through the country of Uganda and help explore the continent of Africa.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK

The most striking aspect of this book is the rich vocabulary. The author is familiar with Uganda, the animals and plants and people. This knowledge helps him introduce another land to our earliest readers. Some of my favorite words in the book are fowl, Ibis, Kob, Pygmy chimpanzee and tilapia. These are animals that are kids don’t often see, even in the zoo. It expands their world, imagination and, of course, vocabulary.

The author also uses rhythmic language and alliteration to reinforce phonological awareness, the important building block for sounding out words.

It may seem a stretch in an alphabet book, but the author’s use of a land and a people helps tell not just a story of the alphabet journey, but the life of a people who live far away. He brings in ritual life and traditions that help kids explore a world they do not hear about. These types of books and book experiences open up creativity to our youngest readers and enrich the stories they tell.

The pictures are bold, boisterous and beautiful. The illustrator is an artist in Uganda, who uses a particular style of painting called batik. There is more information about this process in the back of the book, but his illustrations invite the reader onto the page and the reading becomes an interactive experience instead of a passive one. Interesting and unique pictures that support the text on the page produce a love of reading called, Print Motivation. The more our kids love a book, the more they develop a love for reading.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

This book is a great start to study different forms of art. Create your own “batik” style paintings or drawings while talking about what your child sees in her every day life. The book is an exploration of Africa, so explore the city or state you live in with the animals you see around you, the traditions or food you eat in your region. This is a great way to build hand strength, through picture drawing, and a great way to introduce new vocabulary. It also helps her learn about the place she lives in which will help with cultural awareness.

Since this is an alphabet book, I would be remiss if I ignored the different alphabet activities out there. Pinterest is a great place to find cute and interactive ways to learn the alphabet. You don’t have to be super creative though, some of my favorite alphabet building fun is taking rice or oatmeal or sand and filling a cookie sheet. Trace the alphabet and have your child mimic. Imprinting the shapes and movement of the alphabet will bring the letters to life.

What to Read Next

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. I do not get paid to review books. The opinions are mine. However, if you click on the pictures it will take you to Amazon, where if you make purchases I will receive a percentage of the sale.)

See our other book reviews of author Michael Samulak’s work:

a-wonderful-day

Author Interview

A Wonderful Day Book Review

 

Connect with Michael Samulak

 

 

What is your favorite way to practice the alphabet with your child? Share in the comments at the end of the post.

 

Happy Reading!