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The Family Tree

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  136 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
A man in the 1800s comes upon a beautiful forest and decides to build his home there. When he clears the land, he leaves one special tree to grace his front yard. Over the years, several generations of his family enjoy this tree, but it is endangered by a plan to build a highway. A young boy and his host of animal friends get together to make a stand, and give back to the ...more
40 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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(showing 1-30 of 200)
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Michelle McBeth
A man goes to a new land to build a home. He clears the land, but keeps one tree as shade for his home. Several generations grow up in the home and the tree remains. But progress happens. A road is built in front of the home. One day they plan to widen the road to make a highway. The tree must come down. The youngest child of the generations protests. Animals come to help him protest. The builders decide to reroute the road and time goes on.

The illustrations are quite lovely watercolor and ink.
David McPhail is awesome and his illustrations have a quiet centeredness to them that really works for this story. I liked the passage of time in the first half of the book but the second half worked less well for me. I'm torn between wanting to introduce concepts such as environmentalism and activism on a child-appropriate level and also wanting to represent the world accurately to children: I am too much a cynic to believe that any road is going to be diverted just because a child says so, and ...more
Traci Bold
Apr 14, 2016 Traci Bold rated it it was amazing
'The Family Tree' written and illustrated by David McPhail gets five stars because I love this story and I love trees.

Too often, nature is taken for granted and that it horrible. In this book, David McPhail gets it right and shows us a poignant story of how anyone can stand up for their beliefs and at least by trying to save something, it could happen if you believe enough in the power to fight for what is right.

Beautifully illustrated.

Published by Henry Holt & Company.
#PB #trees #nature #
Richie Partington
Apr 29, 2012 Richie Partington rated it it was amazing
Richie's Picks: THE FAMILY TREE by David McPhail, Henry Holt, March 2012, 32p., ISBN: 978-0-8050-9057-4

"Far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees"
--Bob Dylan

"He chopped down trees to make fields for his crops and pastures for his animals. But he left one tree standing. It would provide shade for his house during the long hot summers and act as a buffer against the chilly winter winds."

The squirrel from David McPhail's MOLE MUSIC is back! Or maybe it's that squirrel's great-great-gr
Jun 04, 2012 Tasha rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is the story of a very special tree. It was left standing when the rest of the space was cleared to build a house many years ago. This tree would shelter the little house. It witnessed many changes over the years as horse and wagon changed to cars. There were births and deaths on the farm, until finally it was the great-great grandson of the original building of the home who lived there. The tree still stood, strong and straight. But then it was threatened as a new road was planned that wou ...more
Haley VonFeldt
Sep 17, 2015 Haley VonFeldt rated it really liked it
This book I read before class and we were focusing on illustrations. These illustrations were really good and the different point of views that the illustrator showed were really good. I think the little boy would relate to kids who have anything important that they hold dear to them. It definitely didn't follow the story line that I thought which was a nice surprise
Andi Martineau
Sep 17, 2012 Andi Martineau rated it liked it
The Family Tree is about a man long ago who moves into a new area. He cuts down many trees to build a new house and make a pasture for his cattle. The man however leaves one tree standing that he comes to love. As time goes on he has a family and his boys have a family. Many years later his great-great-grandson is now living on the farm and has also fallen in love with the tree. One day workers come to cut the tree down so that they can build a new road. The little boy protests and soon the road ...more
Hope L. Justice
If you're going to write a historical fiction picture book, don't end a very straight forward, heart warming story, with a boy surrounded by predators protecting a tree. I was on board with the plot until I saw this illustration. There was no "fantastical" mentions any where else in the book. It is sudden, and seemingly random, to end this way.
Jazmyne Henry
Oct 09, 2012 Jazmyne Henry rated it liked it
This is a fiction story of a little boy who unites with his animal friends for a good cause. When the tree that has been in his family for generations is going to be cut down, The young boy protests with his animal friends to save the tree. In the end, the young boy and the construction workers create a plan that works for everyone. As a Literacy teacher I would use this text on Earth Day or Arbor Day to show the importance of the environment. The students can also use this text to find out what ...more
Rebecca Hochman
Sep 15, 2015 Rebecca Hochman rated it it was amazing
This book has awesome illustration in it! The way the author uses the pen and ink adding a multiple of lines in this is amazing! It has a good lesson of tradition and starting something new. The colors in this are amazing! I would read this book to younger students.
Joseph Leiter
Sep 17, 2015 Joseph Leiter rated it really liked it
The family tree tells a really good story to kids who like to think they can be on there own and what all it takes. I really recommend this book because kids will find it interesting.
Maimoona Albar
Feb 21, 2015 Maimoona Albar rated it liked it
Shelves: children-books
The story connects children with the environment. I like how it shows that a child with friends' support can make a difference.The illustrations are colorful and it caught my attention.
Dimity Powell
Apr 29, 2015 Dimity Powell rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-lit
Miss 9 rated this one. Live and let live.
Karen Arendt
Sep 06, 2012 Karen Arendt rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books, family
Charming story of a man who travels west in the late 1800s to build a house, leave the house and return with a wife, then raise his family there. As he is clearing the land, he leaves one tree standing for shade in the summer and protection from the wind in the winter. generations later, his descendants are sill living in the house and a great great grandchild protects the house from modernization. McPhail's illustrations are full of colorful browns, and greens with a solid white border around e ...more
Kristina Jean Lareau
Jul 13, 2014 Kristina Jean Lareau rated it liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
These watercolor and ink illustrations are typical of McPhail's style--well done and detailed. The book itself provides a great--albeit overdone--message. It immediately called to mind Gary Crew's and Shaun Tan's The Memorial as well as Virginia Lee Burton's The Little House. Either way, it is worth a read, though it doesn't cover any new ground.
Dec 01, 2012 Meghan added it
This story is about a tree that is planted and how it serves various purposes throughout generations. Eventually, the tree is going to be cut down to widen the road that runs by the house. The little boy who lives in the house, the great-great grandson of the man who planted the tree does what he can to save the tree. Nearby forest animals come to the aid of the boy and the tree is saved to be enjoyed by future generations.
Oct 14, 2012 Dylan rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s
The art is lovely, and the narrative moves along, but it's rather painful and tortured. We're sad to see the pioneer cut down a forest (portrayed unremoursefully), and then meant to feel happy that one tree was saved? Saved by having a highway skirt it? A very sad tale of "progress," one that left my 5 yr old a bit conflicted. Can't blame her.
Nov 10, 2012 Bree rated it did not like it
Shelves: children-books
I really wanted to like this book but I ended up skipping the words of the story and telling my own. It just was too much for my class without actually using a lot of words. I was bored with it and wished that this week when I read it wasn't so chaotic or else I would have read it ahead of time and realized that is was a no go before I started on it.
May 18, 2012 Nicole rated it liked it
Shelves: picture_book
This book makes a little the same way that Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree does. We follow a family - and their favorite tree - through the years. When the highway needs to come through the area, a little boy and his animal friends save the tree...but then the tree is located directly next to a giant highway in the end. :(
Jun 15, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it
Another beautiful picture book by David McPhail, he never disappoints. I don't think I could do this one for story time because I'm not sure I can get through the part where old generations leave the family and the little boy is standing next to the grave without crying. Beautifully done!!!
When I flipped through it I thought for sure my kids and I would be in tears as the boy defends his family tree from a new row expansion. We weren't. It didn't click for us on that level. Maybe it was a bit forced, or for me it was distracting having the word bubbles, and the regular text.
Julia Jasztal
Jan 08, 2013 Julia Jasztal rated it it was ok
(Mommy's review from 5/12)

This is okay but it's hardly worthy of 5 stars IMO. Julia liked it well enough but it's not wordy enough for either of us. We both agreed we really liked the subject, the little boy, what he does, etc. but the story just didn't deliver for us.
Kim Patton
Aug 07, 2012 Kim Patton rated it it was amazing
Shows the history of a tree from the time the land was settled through the years. Finally a young boy must save the tree when a roadway is going to be put where the tree stands. Beautiful illustrations and text that is easy to understand.
Mar 26, 2012 Peacegal rated it really liked it
Shelves: humane-education
In an era of the thoughtless plundering of natural resources, here is a voice in favor of valuing our natural history. This is a nice story to read for Arbor day, or simply to impart environmental values any day of the week.
Jun 07, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books-jp
Another nice offering from David McPhail, a gentle story about generations passing and respect for who and what has come before around a story of the importance of saving an old tree.
Feb 14, 2013 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: pb
lovely short book. very short sentences. obvious moral. no real conflict to resolve because the reader can anticipate the ending. It won an environmental award.
Alley Denney
Feb 08, 2013 Alley Denney rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's about family traditions, love, and stand your ground no matter what. Excellent book to read to an elementary class.
Genea T.
Dec 30, 2013 Genea T. rated it liked it
Shelves: lead-reader
Sweet simple story.
Dec 11, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
Ok. The first half of story was better than last half. A little unrealistic to think that a child can change the course of a road .
Jun 18, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Very cute. Great illustrations. Not too heavy on the environmental side but shows that nature is important.
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David was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts and attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. While there, he began illustrating. He is now an award-winning author and illustrator of nearly 200 books beloved by children, parents and librarians across the United States. McPhail has garnered many prestigious awards, including a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year ...more
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