The Picture Book Buzz

One Million Trees - The Perfect Picture Book Buzz

This #PPBF picture book is such a fun way to capture a forty-day, summer experience Kristen Balouch shared with her family and a tree planting crew in British Columbia as they worked collaboratively to plant 1,000,000 trees.

One Million Trees: A True Story


Author/Illustrator Kristen Balouch


Publisher: Holiday House (2022)


Ages: 4-8


Nonfiction


Themes:

Conservation, math, French, cooperation, family, and citizen activism.


Synopsis:

The real-life story of a family who planted 1,000,000 trees— yes, it’s true!—to fight deforestation in British Columbia.


When Kristen Balouch was 10 years old, her parents made a surprising announcement: their whole family was going on a trip to plant trees! Kristen, her sisters, and her mom and dad—and their pet, Wonder Dog!—flew from their California home to a logging site in British Columbia. There, they joined a crew working to replant the trees that had been cut down.


In One Million Trees, Kristen reflects on the forty days they spent living in a tent, covered in mud and bug bites, working hard every day to plant a new forest. Young readers will learn a little French, practice some math skills, and learn all about how to plant a tree the right way!


The kid-friendly, engaging text is paired with bold illustrations, full of fun details and bright colors. The story ends with a modern-day look at what Kristen's family helped accomplish: a stand of huge trees growing on what used to be an empty, muddy patch of bare stumps.


An author's note shares more information on deforestation, sustainable logging practices, and the irreplaceable environmental benefit of old growth forests. . . . Plus, the amazing things even a small group of people can do when they work together.


A fun story with an important environmental message, One Million Trees is bound to inspire kids to get their hands dirty to make our planet healthy!


Opening Lines:

One day after school, Mom handed

me and my sisters suitcases,

and Dad handed us packing lists.


What I LIKED about this book:

Using a mixture of first-person narrative, speech bubbles, and detailed illustrations, Kristen Balouch takes the reader along on her family's summer adventure on Vancouver Island, British Columbia as they join a crew of 24 others to plant 1,000,000 trees in a deforested, logged area.

Text & Image © Kristen Balouch, 2022.


This spread is such a fun way to introduce the diverse and eclectic "crew of 24 Canadians who mostly spoke French" and many of the vehicles involved in the camp. Even though we only see their heads, their individual personalities are immediately evident. In addition, there is the first of many starred (*) footnotes which translate the French (in this case "Bonjour, mes amis,") and offer pronunciation guides. This adds a fun layer for bilingual readers, as well as for teachers and parents wanting foreign language exposure for kids.


After telling us that "Inside the trucks were boxes, and inside the boxes were..."

Text & Image © Kristen Balouch, 2022.


we find the first of many nature focused "math lessons" embedded throughout the story. In this instance, employing both multiplication and division, Kristen explains how many trucks were needed and how many trees were in each truck. Throughout the book, she offers a question, provides a formula, and includes the answer(s) in a footnote. She's also offered a fun way to compare and contrast the differences in these seedlings, by examining their roots, leaves, and sizes. By separating these portions with smaller text, Kristen enables the text to be read to and enjoyed by multiple age ranges.


When the group arrives at camp, Kristen expands her illustrations (with a few liberties noted in her author's note) to include the flora and fauna which inhabit British Columbia. The colorful illustrations have a child-like feel, as if the ten-year-old narrator drew them. Her illustrations are loaded with details, including many fun tidbits, like the tub someone brought to camp and a friendly little bird.


Our narrator alternates between helping her Dad (and the crew) plant trees,

Text & Image © Kristen Balouch, 2022.


playing with her sisters and Wonder Dog, and helping her mother (the camp's cook) bake deserts. No matter what she's doing, math never seems to be far away - from counting tree rings on fallen logs to the math involved in cooking. This book is a joyous celebration of the community they create and the environmental conservation of a group of determined people. The ending both wraps up the story and provides a glimmer of hope. The author's note expands upon the project and provides information on old growth forests. Overall, this is a great nonfiction picture book on citizen conservation, which weaves French, math, and teamwork throughout.


Resources:

- find a cut tree and count its rings OR make your own tree rings (crayon art or cookie).

- participate in a tree planting program in your community, county, or state.

- if you can't participate in a planting program or camp, check out One Tree Planted (https://onetreeplanted.org/), or other organization, and see how you can help plant trees throughout the world for one dollar a tree.

- write and/or draw a story about a trip your family took.


If you missed it, be sure to check out Monday's interview with Kristen Balouch (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.


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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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