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Champion: The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut Tree
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Champion: The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut Tree

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  92 ratings  ·  30 reviews
American chestnut trees were once found far and wide in North America's eastern forests. They towered up to one hundred feet tall, providing food and shelter for people and animals alike. For many, life without the chestnut seemed unimaginable--until disaster struck in the early 1900s.

What began as a wound in the bark of a few trees soon turned to an unstoppable killing fo
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Henry Holt & Company
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  92 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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A fascinating topic to read about in a short, digestible book. I kind of love youth non-fiction, especially when I don't know anything about a topic and want to learn just a little bit more. ...more
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was -such- an enjoyable read. I finished the book genuinely loving the American Chestnut and deeply concerned about its restoration. I even found myself staring hard at every tree along the roadside, hoping I might see catkins blooming. (If I find a chestnut tree in person, I will feel like I found a treasure chest filled with gold - no exaggeration.) I can't wait to share this book with my son.

I'm grateful to the author for sharing this story in such an accessible way (she didn't even tak
Miz Lizzie
For anyone who still believes that the American Chestnut is extinct, this is an excellent introduction to the history, blight, survival and tenuous return of this most important indigenous tree. There is a great deal of on-going science attempting to rectify the human-introduced blight and return this tree to its place in our North American forests (and timber industry).

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This children's non-fiction book is a great introduction for readers of any age who would like to know more abou
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very fine upper elementary/middle grade nonfiction on the history and rehabilitation of the American Chestnut tree. I loved the combination of science and history. Excellent author notes on sources and inspiration will help young readers understand the writing and research process. I enjoyed learning about chestnut trees and how they were the dominant tree before the blight hit in the early 20th century. The science behind research to bring the tree back is explained clearly and respectfully. A ...more
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Champion gives a brief history of the American chestnut tree and the blight that all but wiped these majestic plants from the face of the earth, and then delves into ongoing efforts to breed blight-resistant trees and reintroduce them into North American forests. Walker sounds a cautiously optimistic note. I'm not so sure … I read it with a lump in my throat; like the demise of the passenger pigeons and ivory-billed woodpeckers, I think of the loss of those massive trees as one of the great trag ...more
Global warming and climate change make it clear that many plants and animals will not be able to survive changes in temperatures and the oceans' acidity, making this comeback story of a tree that seemed all but gone one of hope for the future. The author carefully takes readers through the history of the American chestnut tree, its demise, and its possible comeback. And who doesn't love an underdog even when it's a tree? I can remember my father telling me about these trees and how they could no ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cybils, ya-nonfiction
I had no idea that trees could be so fascinating. But Sally Walker's account of the near extinction of the American chestnut tree and the numerous efforts being made to save it was informative and intriguing. She starts by giving an introduction to the tree itself and what made the tree valuable to so many people and creatures. Then she discusses the blight that attacked the trees and started killing them off rapidly. The rest of the book is spent explaining the various methods different scienti ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: overcoming-odds
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily McDonald
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is a nonfiction picture book with an immense amount of information about American Chestnut Trees. I think this would be a great book for elementary school students who are interested in plants and science. The book makes it easy to follow along with beautiful pictures of the chestnut trees, the ways we can save the endangered trees and the benefits of doing so. It would also be cool for young students to read early on about conservation because it could make them more conscious of glob ...more
Alexa Hamilton
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, tween
The thrilling story of a blight that killed most of America's chestnut trees! It's thrilling! It's orange! Actually, it is. That's what's so amazing about this book about a kind of tree I now want to see in person. Yes, a tree. This book opens like a thriller--there's a problem and no one knows how to solve it. What to do? It's secondary that the problem is in a tree, although that certainly impacts the timeline of this story. It's really amazing to see the kind of work and time that goes into s ...more
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The eastern United States had billions of chestnut tress. Animals and people depended on them for food and wood, but in the early 1900s a blight attacked these trees killing most of them. Scientists, arborists and volunteers have worked tirelessly for over 100 years to save these survivors and try to make a stronger tree, better able to fight off this invasive fungus.

Full of science and conservation, this would make a terrific addition to either an elementary or middle school library. The story
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Throughout the Eastern part of the United States, volunteers and forestry experts have planted many new Chestnut trees to take the place of old, blighted trees that died and almost became extinct. New methods were required to make the saplings healthy again. Although this book is listed as children's literature, it is at a higher level of scientific knowledge. It's perfect for arborists, botanists or naturalists. ...more
Steve Bender
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I got this book through a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. It iks an account of the efforts to bring back the American chestnut tree to America. I found the book enthralling. It is suitable from advanced middle school on through adult. I am anxious to get some seedlings to plant now. this book gave me some hints about that. Highly recommended
Heather Tweed
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for upper elementary students, teens and adults interested in plant science. The simple narrative style paints a picture of scientists’ struggles and successes in saving the endangered chestnut trees of America. Be sure to read the appendix about the author and another cool experiment that tests animals’ nut preferences!
Darlene Ivy
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
EXCELLENT read. Lots of information about the American chestnut tree blight and what scientists have done to reestablish blight-resistant trees. Easy to read. Understandable, but detailed science. The story begins with a fifth-grade boy who sees a problem to fix and ends with that scientist and others working with a new generation of school children to address the continuing needs of the trees.
Bonita Slovinski
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very assessable science story of the history and efforts to restore the American Chestnut tree to American forests. Walker’s narrative style allows middle grade readers to understand the importance of this once dominate tree it’s impact on the environment, animals, people: as well as the scientific work being done to understand why it began dying out and how to preserve it.
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
great information filled read. very concise and a quick read. very understandable explanation of technical aspects. and thank you for properly inserting additional information within the text!! (e.i. no 2 page info spreads dividing a sentence.)
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Walker, Sally M. Champion : The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut Tree, 136 pages. NON FICTION. Henry Holt (MacMillan), 2018. $18.

May 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Having just finished "The Death and Life of the Great Lakes," I really wanted to like this book. I heard a wonderful book talk about it and was very motivated to read it. However, I didn't capture my attention. It felt like some parts were overly simplistic and then others were too scientific. ...more
Kathy Littrell
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
One on NSTE best books of 2018. A great resource on the loss of the American Chestnut and the efforts to bring it back. A great science source for a real life example of back crosses and transgenic models.
Jan 28, 2021 rated it liked it
A quick read. I wanted to read another book on chestnut trees, but wasn’t able to find it at the library and this ya book was available. It told me what I needed to know about the ongoing efforts to restore the American chestnut tree.
An interesting topic and filled with lots of great science, fells a little dated though wish it was had more of the current happenings.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great science title for young readers, and a fascinating history of this important American tree. Inspired me to plant disease-resistant American Chestunt trees!
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
The appendices are the best part of this book!
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written scientific and personal look at the efforts to resuscitate the American Chestnut. Great introduction to the scientific method for students as well.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
The chestnut tree almost died out due to a fungus. Scientists have been trying to find a way to save it. Almost all black and white. Photos, maps, good science.
2.5 stars
Annie Oosterwyk
What a fantastic find for our forestry classes! Genetics, history, technology, research, this book has it all and is concise and interesting enough for students.
Highly recommended!
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The death of the great forests of the east 100 years ago and what is being done now to restore these trees.
Alma Petterson
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-won
I liked learning about the American Chestnut tree. I learned something with this book and it was just the change I needed.
Adam Jacobson
This was a story of the American Chestnut tree and how a blight struck. It was determined to be a fungus but the solution to the “disease” was unsolvable at first. They had to locate where the fungi originated hoping it would give clues to the solution. This worked since the Chinese and Japanese chestnut trees had built a resistance towards the blight. They attempted to cross-breed to produce resistant trees but it did not help the issue and from 1908 till 1931 the number of chestnut trees fell ...more
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Sally M. Walker has written science books for children, including Earthquakes, an NSTA/CBC Best Science Trade Book of 1997. She lives in DeKalb, IL.

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