Posts tagged nature

A Tree Is Nice, and this picture book is a perfect reminder.

A Tree Is NiceTreeCover

Picture Book

Ages 2-7

By Janice May Udry

Illustrated by Marc Simont

32 Pages



1957 Caldecott Medal Winner



Janice May Udry wrote seven picture books, including Let’s Be Enemies and Moon Jumpers, both illustrated by Maurice Sendak. A Tree is Nice was her first picture book, and it is divine. Her unpretentious text is direct and expressive.

Marc Simont has appeared on TurtleAndRobot before, see The Philharmonic Gets Dressed and My Brother Ant. In A Tree is Nice his drawing style is loose and unrestricted; he doesn’t squander lines. Giving just enough information and omitting fine details, he’s creating a feeling with each scene as much as a picture.

The spreads alternate between black and white and color. The luxuriant, saturated color art arouses warm, joyous feelings.


In the black and white illustrations Simont uses a gray wash and thicker, more strategic strokes, generating a quiet, meditative feeling.


And every spread evokes serenity and comfort.


Trees are nice. They offer shade, they make the woods, they’re good for hanging swings on and they make sticks!


This exquisitely simple picture book provides many reasons trees are nice, and some reasons just one tree is nice too.


This book will make you want to plant a tree, or climb a tree, or lie down under a tree and take a nap. And really, don’t all of those things sound perfectly delightful?


Buy the book!

IndieBound / Powell’s / Amazon

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Bob and Otto: Friends are important.


Bob and Otto


Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Robert O. Bruel

Pictures by Nick Bruel

32 pages

Roaring Brook Press




Nick Bruel is a Books of Wonder alum, and the author and illustrator of the wildly popular Bad Kitty books. He’s also written and illustrated many other books and has a clear knack for speaking directly to his audience. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Nick’s work. His latest book, Bad Kitty School Daze, was just recently released and I have it on good authority that another Bad Kitty book is in the works.

Nick’s father, Robert O. Bruel, wrote this story. Discovered shortly after his father’s passing, Nick adapted it for the picture book audience and created the art to accompany his father’s beautiful tale.

Bruel’s illustrations have a cartoon-ey feel; he uses rich, saturated colors with bright accents and bold edges. He has interspersed double page spreads with pages of panel art—similar to those in a comic strip—an unusual tactic in a picture book that works perfectly here. Four double page spreads are divided horizontally, depicting the divergent activities of our main characters—the top features preparations for a transformative snooze, while the bottom focuses on a subterranean tour.

Bob, a caterpillar, and Otto, a worm, are completely adorable and surprisingly expressive, considering their faces have only little black dots for eyes. (They also have no mouths except in the final spread when little smiles suddenly appear.)


Bob and Otto are good friends. They both like to play in the grass and eat leaves, but when Bob says he needs to climb a tree Otto doesn’t understand and asks why.


‘“Because it’s important.” said Bob.”’

Otto wants to dig into the ground. “It’s important down here too.”

So the two friends part ways. Bob climbs and climbs, Otto digs and digs. Bob eats the fresh green leaves off the tree. Otto dines on leaf litter underground. Bob gets sleepy and wraps himself in a cocoon. Otto digs, until he gets quite sleepy, then he digs some more.


After many days and nights, Bob awakens as a beautiful, yellow butterfly. He flies all around the tree, testing out his new wings. Soon Bob misses Otto and flies down to the ground to find his old friend. Meanwhile, underneath the tree, Otto misses his friend Bob and starts digging his way to the surface.

The friends’ reunion is awkward. Bob has changed. He has wings, and has gained the astonishing gift of flight! Otto thinks maybe he should have climbed that tree too; maybe he would have also grown wings. But instead he’s still a worm, whose only mode of locomotion is crawling.


Bob knows how very important Otto is and explains that it was Otto’s digging that loosened the soil, allowing the rain to reach the tree’s roots, which helped the tree to grow tall and strong, and made it a perfect home for Bob to eat, sleep, and grow wings.


‘“I owe it all to you, Otto,” said Bob. “You’re not just a worm. You’re my best friend.”’

“And friends are important.”


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I’m a Pill Bug: Get to know these tiny, cute crustaceans.

I’m a Pill BugCoCo5

Non-Fiction Picture Book

Ages 2 to 6

Written by Yukihisa Tokuda

Illustrated by Kiyoshi Takahashi

28 pages




When I was a child, like many children, I enjoyed playing with bugs. Pill bugs (also known as roly-polies or potato bugs) were always easy to find: all I needed to do was lift a rock or a piece of wood. The small, gray, harmless creatures were ubiquitous and, when touched, would curl up into perfect little balls. Despite all my experience with theses tiny guys, I’m A Pill Bug taught me many fascinating things.

Realistically illustrated in cut paper collage, this non-fiction book follows the life of a pill bug, as narrated by a pill bug.


Using simple and clear language this book offers a wealth of information regarding the life and habitat of these mini crustaceans. They are not insects, as readers will learn: pill bugs are related to crabs and shrimp.


Young listeners will also learn what pill bugs eat: basically everything, including dead plants, dead leaves, newspapers and cardboard. With all that eating, these bugs also do a lot of pooping. Some youngsters (some adults too) may be amused to learn that a pill bug’s poop is square; some may also take pleasure in pointing out those telltale square specks throughout the pages of the book. 


In addition to all the decaying organic matter, pill bugs also need to eat stones and concrete to aid in their digestion. That’s why they live near people, and their concrete walls and buildings.

To defend themselves against ants, pill bugs roll themselves into a ball—hence the common nickname, roly poly. Pill bugs also shed their shells many times as they grow. First they shed the rear half; the next day they shed the front half. And at the end of fall, when it starts to get cold, they dig deep down in the ground and sleep until spring.

In addition to all this information, the last three pages offer instructions on how to hold a pill bug and even safely keep one as a guest in your home.


But remember to return him to the outdoors before fall, “He’ll want to be with his family during the cold winter!”

These little creatures, everywhere under our feet, are introduced to readers in this simple yet fully informative book.  Not only do we learn that they’re helpful, they turn out to be lovable too!

View on Powell’s Oregon’s premier independent bookstore

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