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From Tree to Sea

Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal



About The Book

“An original book with wide appeal.” —School Library Journal

“A delight to share again and again.” School Library Connection

Simple on the surface, this sweet story imparts important truisms about the planet we call home.” BookPage

“Thomas’s exhortations celebrate both natural beauty and human virtue in a kind of gentle eco-theology.” —Publishers Weekly

“Encourages readers to find inspiration everywhere.” —Booklist

From a child’s point of view, this lyrical picture book looks at the relationship of nature to the human world and the place we call home.

From the edge of the sea to a high mountain top, everything has its place in the world and all living things are connected. The world around us has a lot to tell us if we take the time to look and listen. This tender and comforting picture book celebrates the wisdom in many of the things great and small that make up our wonderful world.

About The Author

Shelley Moore Thomas is the author of the Good Knight series of picture books and easy readers. In addition to writing books, she works as an elementary teacher and as a professional storyteller. Ms. Thomas lives with her family and dogs in Oceanside, California.

About The Illustrator

Christopher Silas Neal is an award-winning illustrator and author who regularly contributes to The New York TimesThe New Yorker, and creates book covers for various publishers. He has directed short animated videos for Kate Spade and Anthropologie and was awarded a medal from the Society of Illustrators for his work in motion graphics. He illustrated the acclaimed picture books Over and Under the Snow and Lifetime, both of which explore the natural world. Over and Under the Snow, with author Kate Messner, was praised for its “stunning retro-style illustrations” (The New York Times), was a 2011 New York Times Editor’s Choice and won an E.B. White Honor Award in 2012. He recently contributed art to the New York Times bestseller Goodnight Songs, which is a collection of poems by author of Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (February 12, 2019)
  • Length: 32 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781481495318
  • Grades: P - 3
  • Ages: 4 - 8
  • Lexile ® 560L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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Raves and Reviews

Illustrated by Neal (Everyone) with serene, spacious landscapes, lyrical free verse by Thomas (This Book Is Not About Dragons) explores lessons to be found in the natural world. One voice narrates, but many children appear in the spreads. “Trees show me how to stand tall./ Even when the wind/ tries to blow me down,/ I dance with the breeze./ I do not fall.” Neal draws a tree in a gale, its leaves scattering. A girl in a blue dress stands underneath it, arching her body to the side with a sweet smile on her face, long black pigtails blowing in the breeze. Often, in Neal’s spreads, the majesty of the natural world (the moon, a mountain, bees foregrounded on a page) dwarfs the humans who populate it. In one striking image, the figures of an adult and child in a tiny boat are seen from above, the shadow of a mammoth whale visible below (“Whales show me the wonder/ of big things and small things”). Addressing readers who are likely to draw inspiration from the outdoors, Thomas’s exhortations celebrate both natural beauty and human virtue in a kind of gentle eco-theology. -- Publishers Weekly

– Publishers Weekly, November 26, 2018

Thomas, author of the Good Knight series, here offers a series of contemplative, lyrical meditations tied to mindfulness and appreciation of the wonders of the world. In each vignette, an observation is narrated by a diverse cast of children. The narratives demonstrate that there are many parallels between the self and things in nature, such as trees, rocks, oceans, the sun, clouds, bees, baby birds, soil, cats, whales, and the moon. Closing on the message "just open your eyes and you will find it," this encourages readers to find inspiration everywhere. In Neal's sumptuous illustrations, the soft, boldly colored scenes feature a wide variety of recognizable environments and snapshot-like images of children serenely enjoying nature. The story's tempo segues to a gentler, lulling tone at the end, soothing readers into a peaceful mindset, making the book a perfect end for the day. For more explorations of mindfulness, pair this with Susan Verde's I Am Peace (2017), Kate Messner's Over and Under the Pond (2017), or Julian Lennon's Touch the Earth (2017). — Vivian Alvarez -- Booklist

– Booklist, Jan 1, 2019

PreS-Gr 2–“Earth shows me many things” begins this gentle book that bears a powerful message. Each boundless spread depicts children quietly interacting with familiar aspects of the natural world accompanied by poetic observations such as, “Clouds show me how to rise up and float above problems…. A baby bird shows me how not to be afraid to spread my wings and fly…. Soil shows me how to support those around me.” The mixed media illustrations in muted colors echo the simplicity of the text and feature a diverse array of young children. Spacious page composition gracefully complements the theme while selective details add interest without distraction. This contemplative book has much to offer solo readers but would be just as effective in group settings and as a bedtime story at the conclusion of a busy or fretful day. Teachers might consider using it to spark Earth Day conversations or to inspire instruction in the practice of meditation or yoga. VERDICT An original book with wide appeal sure to enhance most collections.-- School Library Journal

– School Library Journal, January 2019

This volume should be a staple in every classroom and every library. The wisdom it imparts is critical to ensuring that positivity prevails in the upcoming generation. The author wisely imbues the lessons that the trees, stones, moon, ocean, sun, wind, clouds, bees, birds, soil, and whales have to teach us if only we would stop and listen. The book’s message about protecting the earth and its resources is clearly apparent. The author’s poetic sensitivity coupled with her proclamation to wake up and view the world around us is subtle yet oh-so-effective. This book can be used as a springboard for children to write about their own special connections to nature. The illustrations are a perfect match for the text and imbue a sense of wonderment for the natural world. Each page is replete with the properties of nature (such as clouds) and the way its physicality helps it along (clouds float above problems). The next line explains how that special ability could be translated into helping a child (for example, "I am so light. I cannot be weighed down"). The style of the art matches the text in its breeziness and imaginative use of anthropomorphic qualities, such as how a tree dances in the wind. This title is a delight to share again and again, and with each new reading more sophisticated themes may be discovered.School LIbrary Connection Sandra Kitain, Educational Consultant, Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania

Highly Recommended

– School Library Connection, March April 2019

Sure to ignite a sense of possibility in readers, Shelley Thomas’ poetic new offering, From Tree to Sea, celebrates the pleasures of getting outside and the lessons that children can glean from their surroundings. Touching down in a variety of locations including the desert, the ocean and the rocky heights of a steep mountainside, this appealing picture book follows adventurous girls and boys as they make exciting discoveries about their environments. Throughout the book, Thomas plays up the aspects of nature that can provide comfort and assurance to young readers. Her accessible text makes the title a perfect read-along: “Trees show me how to stand tall. / Even when the wind / tries to blow me down, / I dance with the breeze. / I do not fall.” Filled with creative rhymes and arresting imagery, her verses capture the multifaceted quality of the great outdoors. The book’s colorful, vibrant illustrations, contributed by artist Christopher Silas Neal, will intrigue young explorers. Simple on the surface, this sweet story imparts important truisms about the planet we call home. -- Bookpage

– BookPage, Web Exclusive, April 9, 2019

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More books from this author: Shelley Moore Thomas

More books from this illustrator: Christopher Silas Neal