Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Friday, September 29, 2023

Bristlecone: The Secret Life of the World’s Oldest Tree by Alexandra Siy

Bristlecone: The Secret Life of the World’s Oldest Tree
Alexandra Siy: Illustrated by Marlo Garnsworthy

Web of Life Children’s Books. 2022.

In the White Mountains of California, behind White Mountain Peak, there lives ancient, twisty trees. The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Trees.

In this informational picture book, Siy (author of, Mosquito Bite, Voyager’s Greatest Hits, and Cars On Mars), explains the life cycle of these ancient trees, one that is thought to be more than 5,000 years old.

By examining their growth rings, these remarkable trees record different environmental conditions. “More moisture makes a wider ring. Drought slows growth so much that a ring may not form at all. Extreme cold damages woods as it grows, making a frost ring. Fire scars form when scorched wood is flooded with a sticky resin.”

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Tree grows slowly. Fifty years, the tree is almost as tall as a crow. In three hundred years, it will be just three feet tall. 

The text draws readers in and clearly explains how the tree grows, repopulates, and how it survives in one of the harshest environments. 

Paired with the engaging narrative are Garnsworthy’s meticulously researched illustrations. The pictures were created using watercolor, sand textures, and digital oil paint. They definitely bring the text to life. 

Throughout the book some words that will appear in the glossary are in bold type. Im addition to the glossary, there is a note with information about the Bristlecone Pine Trees. 

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