oakThe oak tree is the main character in this book. We see it sprouting as an acorn and continuing to grow while the landscape around it transforms dramatically. At the end of the book, a terrific thunderstorm topples the tree, but a tiny sprout pops up next to the stump.

The illustrations are beautiful and carry much of the weight of the story. It’s fun to pore over them, looking for tiny details. The copy I checked out from the library had a pocket inside the back cover with a folded poster in it. The poster featured one of the most innovative timelines I’ve seen: it showed the cross-cut section of the tree’s stump, and with arrows, showed what was happening the year that tree-ring grew.

The book has excited some comment among Native American readers who feel it unfairly characterizes Native Americans and both how the used the land and how they were evicted from their homelands. I think their concerns could prompt an important discussion with young readers.

As an Oak Tree Grows, by B. Brian Karas. Nancy Paulsen Books: 2014