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Review: ‘Under the Canopy: Trees Around the World’

Under the Canopy: Trees Around the World

Under the Canopy: Trees Around the World
Written by Iris Volant, illustrated by Cynthia Alonso
Flying Eye Books, $19.95
Ages 6 and up

This gorgeous, oversized picture book will create new appreciation for nature, obviously, but also for cultures around the world.

Each page describes a particular type of tree—such as willow, coconut, birch, or eucalyptus—accompanied by a lovely illustration of a legend or key moment associated with them. The apple tree, for example, gets a picture of Isaac Newton thinking about gravity. The olive tree is responsible for Athens being named after Athena, who in Greek myth brought it to the people.

We see a Japanese cherry tree viewing party and learn about the Boston elm that became the American Liberty Tree. The ash tree was used to make lacrosse sticks for the Powhatans, and Vincent Van Gogh painted cypress trees. (Sadly, for Monty Python fans, there is no larch included.)

Under the Canopy: Trees Around the World

In between are descriptions of classic or mythological trees, such as the oak trees of Sherwood Forest, how the firs of the Black Forest inspired the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales, and the importance of the Amazon rainforest. The calm colors of the images and their flat but expansive arrangement are reminiscent of mid-century design.

At over fifty pages, there’s a lot of information here, with most readers exposed to greenery they weren’t previously familiar with. Under the Canopy can be read and re-read and will likely inspire readers to learn more in additional books.

Johanna About Johanna

Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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