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What Did the Tree See?

What Did the Tree See?

Published: 18 Feb 2021

Paperback / softback, 32 pages

Recommended for age 5+ and 7+

By Charlotte Guillain

Illustrated by Sam Usher

Published by Welbeck Publishing Group

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Told in rhyming verse, this non-fiction picture book follows the story of an oak tree on a hilltop as it witnesses life changing around it over the course of hundreds of years.

Tagged plants and trees , rhyme and top pick

Reviewed by Emily Weston

What Did the Tree see?: I was first an acorn, so tiny and round, I fell from the branch and sank into the ground. Then as I grew up, I turned into a tree…over hundreds of years! So, what did I see? 

As the centuries pass by, the land changes: woods are cleared and a small village turns into a town; with trains and roads, life’s pace quickens. Through it all, one majestic oak tree bears witness. A heartfelt and lyrical ode to our changing world, what once was, and what may come next. 

There are currently a lot of books written about climate change, being eco-friendly and looking after the world around us. Sometimes, this can mean that the books feel a bit stale; the topic and story become very similar over time and don’t show us a new perspective. However, What Did The Tree See? is a fresh new take on sustainability and the changing world around us. Written in a lovely lyrical rhyme, this reads beautifully and will capture the interest of the reader or listener.

Written in first person, this is a historical story with a reflection on what it might mean for the future, told from the point of view of an oak tree. It shows the reader how trees age, as well as what has happened to the scenery around them. Each new double-page spread shows how man has affected the landscape, showing a period in history and the developments that have been made. When the tree first grows, we can see it surrounded by picturesque fields and forests. As we learn more about history, we see towns build-up, transport transforms and even see new pastimes being discovered.

Following the story, there is a timeline and also some activities that promote more thinking and discussion of the book and its topics, both geography and history which is a really valuable resource for a book to have.

I was a primary teacher for 6 years, having worked across KS2 but with a focus in Year 6 for the last 4 years. I have now moved to the position of a Transition Teacher within a secondary school, where I work in the English department and also on Primary Outreach with local schools. I am passionate about literacy and reading for both academic success and wellbeing and love recommending books to adult and children alike! I can always be found with a book!

The Plants and Trees set

A collection of children's books on the topic Plants and Trees.