Only a Tree knows how to be a tree

Author: Mary Murphy

Publisher: Candlewick

Release Date: March 10, 2020

Reviewer: Laurie

Mary Murphy is a new author illustrator to me but I definitely will be spending some time checking out her other books.

It’s back to school time and teachers will be looking for that perfect first #classroombookaday and/or story to share with their students. As always, there are many books worthy of this special event and released appropriately so, in August and September to fit this niche. I am going to go back into the archives a bit to March 10 of this year and offer Only a Tree knows how to be a tree for your consideration.

Only a Tree knows how to be a tree is a simplistic but important message to young and old readers alike. Murphy begins the book by explaining how a tree is able to do turn sunshine into food and how it can provide a home and shelter and states “Only a Tree knows how to be a tree.” From there we are logically taken to a bird and what makes it unique always ending with Only a ____knows how to be a _____.

One of the many beautiful things about this book is that Murphy does not stick with animals, we learn about the earth, the stars and the universe – that every single thing or living being is different. Then she brings it all back by connecting it to people . People that are diversely represented by colour by gender and by abilities and that we all have our own thoughts and “Only I know how to be me. And only you know how to be you.”

The illustrations are inviting and vibrant on the two page spreads and use a lot of white space on others so we can focus in on the drawings.

This is a wonderful book to engage in before during and after reading discussions. One can touch on environmental concerns and how we can look after the earth, talk about what is out in the universe to discussing different cultures and how we are different and yet the same.

Only a Tree knows how to be a tree fits all those boxes that one wants at the beginning of the school year ( identity, community, nature to name a few) but do not be fooled, this is a book that defies time – it does not have to be a back to school book but could and should be enjoyed anytime.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR: Good Night Like This , Crocopotamus: Mix and match the wild animals! , and Say Hello Like This! 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: K-8