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The Tree That Bear Climbed by Marianne Berkes (Review)

The Tree That Bear Climbed

Written by: Marianne Berkes

Illustrated by: Kathleen Rietz

Paperback: 32 pages

Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing (August 10, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1607185377

ISBN-13: 978-1607185376

If you have fond memories of the popular British (or Mother Goose) nursery rhyme/song ‘The House That Jack Built’ then you will certainly enjoy the book, The Tree That Bear Climbed by Marianne Berkes. Both children and adults will enjoy the rhythmic repetition of the text as they learn about the parts of a tree and how they relate to each other and to nature and the elements as well. And why, we ask, does bear want to climb that tree and what will happen when he gets to the top?

This ‘chain of events’ story begins with the roots of the tree and progresses to the soil, rain, trunk, branches, leaves, sun, blossoms, pollen, bees, hive, honey, and…

I won’t give away the ending, but I’m sure you can see the pattern! Children love making guesses about ‘what will happen next’ in stories, and they will probably be able to make a prediction about what is coming at the end of the book. Therefore, in addition to being a fun book about nature and trees, the story could be also be used to teach the skill of prediction. Teachers are always looking for good resources to reinforce this particular reading strategy.

I also think the repetition of the text on each page is a wonderful way to present the information. It reminds me a bit of the format of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss—and how many millions of children can recite those nonsensical verses? However, in this case, real scientific (basic/elemental) information is presented and learned, even though it is all cloaked in a cheerful, happy story. Strong verbs are a subtle part of the rhythm and cadence, which, I feel enhances the text and certainly evokes perfect images in the mind of the reader, whether they see the illustrations or not!

But that said, I must add that the illustrations are delightful. Kathleen Rietz created vivid and detailed pictures that will enthrall children of all ages. I think my favorites are the pages featuring the blossoms and the bees—the colors are so beautiful and striking!

As always, Sylvan Dell includes ‘For Creative Minds’ pages at the end the book. These educational extras feature basic needs of plants, a plant body part matching activity, how plants and animals interact, and a hands-on plant experiment. Plus, there are 60-70 pages of cross-curricular teaching activities and three interactive reading comprehension and reading quizzes on The Tree That Bear Climbed homepage at to help parents and educators create more educational opportunities. You will also find that Sylvan Dell has a page of links to each state and how their books match up to the standards for each one.

About the Author:

Marianne Berkes is an award-winning author, retired teacher and librarian who turned her love of nature and teaching into writing informational picture books. Visit her website at

About the Illustrator:

A lifelong artist and lover of nature, Kathleen Rietz is originally from Peoria, IL. In addition to illustrating many books, she has taught art to children and adults at the Community School of the Arts at historic Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL, and through a local homeschool program in her community. For more information about Kathleen, visit her website at

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