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The Picture Book Buzz

When A Tree Grows - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Every action has a predictable reaction, right? Eat spaghetti with gusto and you will likely end up wearing red splotches. Try a new sport/activity and you will likely fall and/or collect a few bruises. Lean back and stick out your feet while swinging, and you'll feel like you're flying.

But is every reaction predictable? Sometimes people, animals, and things don't respond to an action the way you'd expect. Check out this fun picture book, where multiple possible consequences exist for each action.

When A Tree Grows

Author: Cathy Ballou Mealey

Illustrator: Kasia Nowowiejska

Publisher: Sterling Children's Books (2019)

Ages: 3 and up



Humor, friendship, and cause and effect.

Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

When Moose sees the inviting tree where Squirrel has built his nest, he rubs his itchy antlers against the trunk—and sets in motion a chain of comic catastrophes. The tree falls and wakes Bear, who stumbles into Moose, who causes a truck driver to swerve off the road. But then Squirrel jumps onto that truck and ends up in the city, all alone. Who will help him get home? And how will Squirrel thank them? Kids will love this adorable picture book, with its irresistible animal characters and rhythmic text that’s made for reading out loud.

Opening Lines:

When a tree grows in the forest, two things could happen.

It becomes a scratching post for Moose's antlers, and the tree sways gently side to side.

OR . . .


Moose pushes a little too hard, the tree falls on a cave,

and the bear inside wakes up.

Why I liked the book:

This book is ingenious and fun! Employing two possible outcomes - one plain and expected and one funny and extreme - for each action that occurs, Cathy and Kasia draw the reader through the text in anticipation of what happens next. The curled paper edge is such a fun way to tantalize the reader.

Text © Cathy Ballou Mealey, 2019. Image © Kasis Nowowiejska, 2019.

Is a tree a scratching post or a horrible wake-up call for a bear? When Bear wakes, does he roll over or charge outside into Moose? Following the antics of Moose, Bear, and Squirrel, the story weaves through the forest and into the city. Where squirrel becomes an action hero OR . . .

Text © Cathy Ballou Mealey, 2019. Image © Kasis Nowowiejska, 2019.

All the silly antics lead up to Moose and friends throwing a celebration for squirrel. Noticeably, this is the first page without an "or" in the right corner.

Text © Cathy Ballou Mealey, 2019. Image © Kasis Nowowiejska, 2019.

A great circular ending finds the friends relaxing together. Or is Moose actually poised to start the silliness all over again? Kasis' bright, colorful illustrations and great expressions heighten the silliness and fun of the text. This is a book sure to capture a kid's attention and one that will be reread over and over again.


- plant a tree - in your yard or in your city on arbor day (April 26, 2019). If you can't plant a tree, plant a flower seed or small herb in a pot and watch it grow;

- write or draw your own fun story with silly or outrageous consequences;

- make a couple of paper bag puppets (Moose, Bear, & Squirrel or your favorite animals) and create your own silly set of problems; or

If you missed Cathy Ballou Mealey's interview on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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