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THERE WAS A TREE by Rachel Isadora

213866Do you remember the song “And the Green Grass Grew All Around” or “There was a Tree”?  It was originally published in 1912 by William Jerome with the melody written by Harry Von Tilzer.  The song has been sung by many, to name just two: Barney and Captain Kangaroo.

This colorful Rachel Isadora book is based upon that song, but the setting is Africa.  Ms. Isadora lived in Africa for a period of her life and saw the Umbrella Acacia tree (or Umbrella Thorn tree) everywhere she went.  She noticed that the tree was a home and source of food for many animals and birds.  The enormous array of beasts and birds, the brilliant colors of Africa, along with the familiar song, “The Green Grass Grew All Around,” inspired this children’s book.
As illustrator, Ms. Isadora adorns each double page layout with a border of colorful African fabric filled with scenes from Africa in vibrant colors as well as the words to this delightful cumulative song.  She also uses rebus icons to illustrate repeated words, making it fun and easy for children to follow along and to read the story.

At the end of the book, there is a “Rebus Key” showing the picture and the written word for that teaching moment.  Plus, she has included the music and words for playing along while singing.

Reading Level: 3-5 years old

Rachel Isadora received a Caldecott Honor for Ben’s Trumpet. She is the author and/or illustrator of over 150 books, many of which are set in Africa or centering around dance.  She lived in Africa for ten years, and grew up dancing from the age of six.  She studied ballet at the George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet and has danced professionally.  Just a few of her children’s books are Say Hello!Peekaboo Bedtime, and the Lili at Ballet series, along with several classic tales set in Africa, including The Ugly DucklingHansel and Gretel, and The Princess and the Pea. She lives in New York City.  You can find more about Rachel Isadora @ http://www.rachelisadora.com/Asset.asp?AssetID=40423&AKey=T8LNTX4L

Book Information:

  • ISBN-13: 9780399257414
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books, a Division of Penguin Young Readers Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/11/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Originally reviewed November, 2013


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