Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Winter Trees

Winter Trees
By Carole Gerber, illustrated by Leslie Evans
32 pages, for ages 4-8
Charlesbridge 2008

Winter is spare, stark, gray and dark … a perfect season to hibernate in the library. Which is where I found Carole Gerber’s book, Winter Trees. Winter, Gerber explains, is the best time to look at trees because you can see their “skeletons” – the egg shape of maple, the oval of beech, the sloping sides of evergreen pyramids.

Winter Trees takes the reader on an adventure of exploration with a boy and his dog. Together they crunch through fresh, frozen snow. Together they compare the smooth peeling trunk of the birch tree to the yellow poplar’s furrowed bark, the soft ferny hemlock twigs to the sharp spruce needles.

Gerber, who volunteers at a nature preserve, wrote her first tree book about fall leaves. It was after slogging through snow and tapping a maple to make syrup, she said, that she was inspired to write a second book about trees. She wanted to focus on a different season. The challenge, Gerber says, is finding another group of beautiful trees that she can fit together in a single long verse.

Gerber says that she does a lot of research. Then she needs to find a way to translate what she learns into language that will appeal to young children and, at the same time, teach them about the trees in their back yards and city parks. She learns new things, too – “The most interesting is that evergreen needles are actually thin, pointed leaves!”

The result of all her work is an award-winning picture book – Winter Trees was named “Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12” by NSTA. The book is more than a field guide – it encourages children to interact with the trees growing beyond their front door. Even if it is something as simple as collecting twigs and pine cones and crunchy dried leaves to decorate a snowman.

This post is part of the Nonfiction Monday Round-Up hosted this week by Wild About Nature. I picked up a copy of the book at my local library.


  1. What a unique take on trees. We most often read about their leaves, not their skeletons. Very cool!

  2. Winter is a great time to learn more about trees. It is so true, you can see the underlying structure more clearly.

    I hope my library has this one.

  3. As a "tree lover" I have always loved the distinct beauty of trees in each season of the year but have never come upon a book studying trees in the winter season; I am excited about obtaining a copy of this book, thank you for bringing it to our attention today!