Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Tree! A Tu B'Shevat Story

Happy Birthday, Tree! A Tu B'Shevat Story
written by Madelyn Rosenberg; illustrated by Jana Christy
2012 (Albert Whitman)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

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A thoughtful Joni wants to celebrate Tu B'Shevat, the Birthday of the Trees. Unfortunately, the big tree in her yard doesn't seem to be in a mood to celebrate, but this won't dissuade the plucky young girl. She sings Happy Birthday in Hebrew and in English. Later, she gathers her friend Nate to help provide presents for the tree. They bring water and provide wind to move the clouds so the sun can shine directly on the tree. Soil cupcakes and Joni's souvenir swan are added to make the tree happier. Joni decides that friendship is the key, so she asks her mother to take her to the nursery so a friend can be added nearby. After a prayer is said to welcome the new tree, friends and neighbors come together to celebrate the new addition to the neighborhood and remember the Birthday of the Trees.

Happy Birthday, Tree! is a delightful reminder of the importance of remembering what sustains life on this planet. The illustrations are bright and cheery as is the main character, Joni. With the Common Core curriculum, we will be focusing on character traits, so I will share Joni with my class when I talk about the word "determined". We've also been studying harvest festivals this week, so my class is familiar with celebrations that focus on nature and what it provides. This book also easily fits in with a unit that focuses on preserving the environment.

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