Books About Plants and Trees

My Leaf Book

by Monica Wellington

My Leaf Book is the story of a young leaf collector who visits an arboretum ablaze with rich autumn colors. As she travels through the arboretum she discovers how different each tree's leaves are. From ginkgo to sassafras, oak to poplar, she learns that leaves come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and each has special and unique markings that help identify them. Plus, there are so many things to do with the leaves, especially make a Leaf Book!

Has your young reader ever picked up a beautiful or striking leaf and wondered what kind of tree is came from? Reading My Leaf Book will help young readers identify leaves and trees through its vibrant collaged illustrations. Not only is this a fun story about the little girl's autumn adventure, but scattered throughout the pages are fun facts to help young readers become tree experts. Don't be surprised if your next neighborhood walk turns into a leaf identification expedition!

In this Issue

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Maple

by Lori Nichols

 

Maple is a book about the friendship between two maples, Maple the girl and her maple tree. Throughout the seasons Maple and her tree entertain each other with snowballs, games of make-believe, and quiet times of simply enjoying each other's company . Maple sees the joy and happiness that comes from a good friendship. Caring for her tree prepares her for the important job of being a big sister and, like any good sister, she shares her special friend with the new baby.

In day to day life it is easy to pass tress without really seeing them. But without being sappy (ha ha), Maple reminds us to pause and appreciate the friendship that trees offer. 

The pages of Lori Nicols's book are brought to life with whimsical, child-friendly illustrations that perfectly capture the simple happiness of childhood. Especially vivid are the maple tree's leaves that seem to glow and dance above Maple's play. The tree is just as much a character as Maple is, and will inspire young readers to find a tree friend of their own!  

In this Issue

Also in this issue, Walter the Art Cat makes an appearance! Can you find him?

Maple Collage

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The Carrot Seed

by Ruth Krauss

illustrated by Crockett Johnson

Dear Friends,

Although The Carrot Seed was originally published in 1945, the allure of playing in the dirt is still the same for kids today as it was then. The fascination of growing things, of exploring leaves and sticks, discovering what's under a rock, and the timeless attraction to mud sparks the imagination in a way not possible in indoor play.

I have such vivid memories of outdoor imaginative play, whether it was creating fairy salads from a variety of weeds or a muddy witch's brew in a large flower  pot, or like the hero of The Carrot Seed, waiting and watching for the first green sprout  of a seed. What are your outdoor memories? 

-Shelli

In This Issue

  

 Underground Carrots Prints

IMG_7819

This fun art activity is part stamping and part science exploration that helps young readers understand what's going on underground while they watch the green stems above ground.

Underground Carrot Prints

Supplies

  • 1 large carrot, cut in half lengthwise
  • Large sheet of paper
  • Orange and green paint
  • Crayons or markers
  1. Using a large paintbrush, paint the flat side of one half of the carrot with orange paint. 
  2. Place flat side of carrot on paper to make a carrot stamp. Repeat to make a row of carrots. 
  3. Using finger, paint green tops on each carrot. Let paint dry. 
  4. With a brown crayon or marker, draw a line to show what grows above the ground and what grows below the ground. Add any other creative details like clouds, a sun, or birds.

  

Here's a glimpse of carrots growing in my garden last year, and when they were just picked, ready to be rinsed: 

carrots - Off the Shelf

carrots - Off the Shelf

Carrot Croquettes

Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf

Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf

Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf
Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf

Carrot Croquettes

Adapted from Ziggity Zoom's carrot croquettes recipe. Makes 4. 

Ingredients

  • 11 ounces carrots, coarsely chopped (about 2 1/2 cups chopped)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, plus more for coating croquettes
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • parsley or lettuce, for carrots tops
  1. Steam or boil carrots until tender; drain.
  2. Roughly mash carrots. They do not have to be silky smooth, just mashed enough so that no large chunks remain. A fun was to do this (especially for kids) is to place about 1/2 cup cooked carrots at a time on a cutting board and press with the back of a fork. 
  3. Place mashed carrots in a medium mixing bowl. Add egg white, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, salt, cinnamon, cumin, and garlic powder and stir until well combined. 
  4. Place additional breadcrumbs on a plate. Form carrot mixture into 4 carrot-shaped croquettes. Roll in breadcrumbs. 
  5. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place croquettes in skillet and cook about 6 minutes, rotating a quarter turn every 90 seconds or until lightly golden brown.
  6. Place some parsley or a piece of lettuce in the top of each croquette and serve!

The Little Yellow Leaf

 Dear Friends,

As much as we love October, we have to admit there is something extra special about the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving. All of the ghosts and jack-o-lanterns are packed away, and we have a few turkeys set out, but this particular time seems more focused on the beauty of the changing leaves, the special autumn glow of the sun, and the beginning anticipations of the holiday season to come. The hustle and bustle of the holidays is right around the corner, so take this time to enjoy kicking through the leaves and reading good books with your young reader. 

 

The Little Yellow Leaf

by Carin Berger

The Little Yellow Leaf is a quiet book that upon first glance may seem deceptively simple but once you begin the story you will be quickly captivated by the little yellow leaf that is hesitant to follow his friends and leave the familiar surroundings of its branch and float to the ground below. Repeatedly the little leaf thinks, “I’m not ready yet,” or “Not yet, not yet,” as he watches all the signs of fall appear and then winter begin to set in. The little leaf feels very alone until something surprising happens to make the change seem not so scary. 
The Little Yellow Leaf - Off the Shelf
 
The Little Yellow Leaf - Off the Shelf  The Little Yellow Leaf - Off the Shelf

The Little Yellow Leaf - Off the Shelf

As equally captivating as the story, the illustrations will draw you back again and again as each page reveals collages done in graph paper, notebook paper, old receipts, and even newspaper, but crafted so beautifully that your eye will not initially recognize the individual raw materials, but only see the autumn landscape.

The Little Yellow Leaf - Off the Shelf

The Little Yellow Leaf - Off the Shelf

The Little Yellow Leaf is a true autumn classic that is sure to become a perennial favorite.

 

In this Issue

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A Tree is Nice

Dear Friends,

Trees are the perfect childhood friends. How many summer days are spent playing in the shade of a tree? Or fall afternoons spent tramping in the the fallen leaves? In imaginative play, tree can be almost anything, from houses to spaceships, as well as base in a game of tag or the perfect place to climb. Although we sometimes take them for granted, this week's book helps us to take a few quiet moments to celebrate the many gifts that trees give us!

A Tree is Nice

by Janice May Udry
illustrated by Marc Simont

Winner of the 1957 Caldecott Medal, A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Udry is a timeless classic that has a feel that is both vintage and contemporary at the same time. Gently proclaiming a deep appreciation of the beauty and virtues of trees, the text is simple yet expressive and has a calming rhythm that entices readers in for factual reasons to love trees.

Gorgeous illustrations by Mr. Simont are perfectly matched to the poetic text, alternating between soft, lush watercolors and black and white illustrations that are quiet but never stark and cold. Simplistic but never dull, A Tree Is Nice compels readers to go for a walk and take the time to notice and appreciate the beauty of the trees that surrounds us.

In This Issue

 

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

Bark rubbings and leaf rubbings are autumn activities that never get old. No matter the age of the artist, making these fall favorites seems to usher in the season of crisp weather, shorter days, and the excitement of the quickly approaching Halloween season. We decided to expand on the basic rubbings in order to further engage in the spirit of our book of the week. So get out the paper, crayons and scissors and get ready to create a little autumn magic.

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree
Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree


Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree from Off the Shelf

Why We Like It

  • Fun activity for developing observational skills by discussing the size, shape, texture, and colors of the leaves.
  • Great way to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and make some fun art.

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

What You Will Need

  • White paper
  • Crayons – wrappers removed
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Leaves – fresh are best
  • A tree


How To Do It

  1. Hold a sheet of paper on the trunk of a tree and, using the side of a crayon, gently rub the crayon over the entire sheet of paper to get a bark rubbing.
  2. Collect several autumn leaves. Place 1 leaf on a flat surface, textured side up, and lay another sheet of white paper on top of the leaf. Using the flat side of a crayon, gently but firmly rub across the leaf to make the image of the leaf appear. Repeat until you have several leaf rubbings.
  3. Cut a vertical section of paper from the bark rubbing to use as your tree trunk. Cut the remaining bark rubbing into strips to use as tree branches.
  4. Cut out the leaf rubbings individually.
  5. Glue the branches to the trunk and attach leaves.
  6. Lay flat to dry.

 

Leaves and Twigs Snack Mix

With dried cranberries and golden raisins in the colors of fall leaves, pretzels sticks reminding us of the shape and crunch of twigs, and flavored with two delicious gifts from trees, this is the perfect snack to enjoy on a beautiful autumn day while sitting under your favorite tree. 

Snack mixes are perfect for kids because they are portable, not messy, and easily customizable to picky eaters!

Leaves and Twigs Snack Mix from Off the Shelf

Leaves and Twigs Snack Mix

Granola adapted from Pumpkin Granola.

Makes roughly 2 cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (see video below)
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup pretzel sticks, broken in half

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, mix together oats, applesauce, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon until well combined. 
  2. Spread mixture on an oiled or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  3. Let granola cool before scooping into a medium bowl, breaking up any large chunks. 
  4. Add cranberries, raisins, and broken pretzel sticks to granola. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Curious where cinnamon comes from?