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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tree Reviews - Picture Book - Chipmunk Song, by Joanne Ryder

[As an experiment I am reviewing an older book that I love, using characters that I are pulled from the fantasy series I am currently working on, The Sylfaen Tree Saga, to make the review unique and interesting for kids.]

“Last night...” Caitlynn started with excitement.

“Was this a dream?” Jake challenged and laughed.

“I heard the trees talking.”

 “I didn't know trees could talk.”

“What do you think they said?” Caitlynn was bouncing up and down. “They were talking about the book I read when I was sitting under one of them yesterday. Apparently, trees love stories.”

“How did they know what was in the book? I didn't know trees could read.” Jake challenged without laughing.

“Maybe I was reading out loud.”

“That must be it. I could, just maybe, believe that trees might be able to talk, but read? Come on!”

“Anyway, they had a lot to say about the book.”

"I bet they did!" Jake smirked.
Toady the Yew Tree

"The yew tree,  outside my bedroom window; I call her Toady; said, 'The girl read a wonderful book to me today called Chipmunk Song. It was written by a human named Joanne Ryder and the pictures are by another human named Lynn Cherry.'
Flutter-by the Cherry Tree
The cute little cherry tree, named Flutter-by, said, 'Oh! I love it already!'
They all laughed.
The stately maple tree that fills the back yard,
called Two Deer, warned, 'Don't judge a book by the name of its author or illustrator, little Flutter-by. You should judge a book by its contents.'

Toady said, 'Yew don't have to worry, Two Deer. She'll love this book. Its first words are - Under the trees...'

All the trees let out a happy sigh which formed a very small cloud that floated away.

The graceful Bradford Pear tree, all decked out in white flowers, named Nightingale, said, 'I love when the humans write stories on the paper they take from us trees. If I ever get cut down, I hope my wood is used for many lovely stories.'

Flutter-by, said, 'Then you could read yourself over and over again!' They all laughed again.

'Do tell us the story, Toady,' Two-Deer asked. 'Stories are such grand things! I can't think of a better way to start a story!'

 The blue spruce tree in the corner of your yard, Jake, the one you trimmed way back last year...well she's still bent out of shape about it. His name is Owly and he said, 'It had better be a good story. Those humans usually do everything all wrong.'"
"Wait!" Jake said. "You dreamed a tree in my yard, that I trimmed last year, is still complaining about it? Cat! You got a problem!"

"Just listen, Jake." Caitlynn said. "This is not about you. Toady said, 'Yew don't have to worry either, Owly, this was a good one. It was well worth the paper and wood it was printed on.'

 'We'll see!' Owly barked."

"Barked. That's funny." Jake laughed.

"Jake, stop interrupting." Caitlynn slapped his arm and laughed.

'Flutter-by the Cherry Tree said, 'Come on already, Toady. We want to hear the story!' Then she moaned, 'I wish I had seen the pictures myself. I bet they were fabulous!'

'They certainly were! You can see them if you look in my memories of yesterday, Flutter-by.'
Toady said, 'All of you can!'

Owly the Blue Spruce said, 'Tell us more about the story so I'll know if I will want to waste my time poking around in your memories!'

'It also had phrases like - deep in the ground - eat the sweet berries - and - stuff an acorn inside your furry cheek, then another and another and another-.' Toady said.

Owly clicked her branches together, 'Well this author seems to understand a little about roots and seed spreading at least. I guess it's worth my time.'

Nightingale the Bradford Pear dropped a few white petals and asked, 'Does it have rhyme and rhythm?'

Flutter-by said, 'It's always about singing with her. That's all she ever thinks about.'

 'Nightingale has a lovely voice, Flutter-by.' Two Deer the Maple Tree said, 'Just because you always forget your words when you sing doesn't mean Nightingale shouldn't enjoy singing.'

Nightingale said, 'Thank you, Two Deer. Your voice is lovely, too.' She gave her branches a little shake. 'So, Toady, does the story sing?'

 'Sort of. It doesn't rhyme, but it does have a nice rhythm. It even talks about song and beat.'

 'Oh, lovely!' Nightingale sighed.
Two Deer dropped some of her tiny winged seeds and said, 'What is the story, Toady? What happens?'

Flutter-by said, 'Yeah! Come on already! We want to hear the story!'

Toady laughed, 'In this book, you imagine you are a chipmunk

burrowing in the earth, looking out for danger and food, and scurrying home to safety. Then the days grow colder and a weasel and a hawk hunt you and the snow comes.'

Nightingale cried out, 'Are you safe. I mean do you as a chipmunk survive? The little furry creatures are so fragile.'

Toad said in a sing-songy voice, 'I'm not going to tell you. You have to look at the memories yourself!'

 'I saw a chipmunk run by here two days ago.'  Flutter-by said all excitedly. 'It scurried up the drain pipe.'

Two Deer said, 'It sounds like a great story. I'll watch your memories, Toady. Thank you.' Then all the other trees thanked Toady, too.
“When I woke up from the dream I read Chipmunk Song again under a new group of trees. It was wonderful. Then I went into my attic to see if the chipmunk Flutter-by had seen had chewed its way into my house from the drainpipe,” Caitlynn told Jake.

Jake laughed, "You've got too much imagination!"

Caitlynn laughed, "Impossible."

Chipmunk Song by Joanne Ryder, pictures by Lynne Cherry, Lodestar Books, E.P. Dutton, New York, ISBN - 0-525-67191-9


Bug Slayer said...

This is a really cool way to review a book! Tell Flutter-by she has a fan!

KC Beck said...

Thanks Bug Slayer. Flutter-by blushed a lovely shade of cherry flower pink when I told her, but she was very pleased.

Chris said...

Interesting collection of trees. Didn't know what a Yew was until now! I found myself very interested in how each one got it's name. One thing I didn't like was how they reacted to the idea of paper. I couldn't accept that beings with that level of sentience could be that casual about it. It seems equivalent to humans arbitrarily using each others bones for construction materials. And that applies to the use of dead trees as well as the intentional harvesting of live trees. We don't need to kill trees to survive. I imagine people have long studied the literary art of adding sentience to familiar lower life forms.

KC Trae Becker said...

Yes, Chris, I had difficulty figuring out how sentient trees might feel about humans and their tree killing habits. I soul searched a long time about this. I want to represent trees with as little anthropomorphism as possible while still keeping them relevant for kids. I concluded that trees, being plants with a reproductive style of mass producing offspring would have less fear of death than humans, and a more generous, cooperative nature than animals. I feel that trees would be more concerned about the death of a forest community than their own individual deaths. The series I am writing will delve into my thoughts on trees much more.

Ballantine said...

What a fun and original way to review a book - very enjoyable and brings it to life.

KC Trae Becker said...

Thanks Ballantine. It was enjoyable to write. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it as well.