Book looks

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Many students have faced the fall "leaf project." But did you know that you can identify trees and learn lots about them even when they're stripped bare of leaves in the winter?

Carole Gerber, an author who lives in Powell, created a poem packed with information in Winter Trees (Charlesbridge, $15.95, 32 pages, ages 4 to 10), a picture book illustrated by Leslie Evans. As a boy and his dog walk through a snowy forest, they use their senses to discover details about a variety of trees. The branches of a maple form an egg shape. The trunk of a stately birch forms a "V," and its peeling bark feeds hungry rabbits.

Gerber's text is rhythmic and informative: Tall yellow poplar's furrowed bark surrounds a trunk that's straight and neat. Its reddish twigs hold puffy buds -- for deer, a tasty winter treat.

Evans' beautiful and deceptively simple illustrations (linoleum block print, watercolor and collage) show variations of the winter landscape with wildlife scattered about -- a hare hiding in the bushes, or a woodpecker tucked in a hole in a tree. At the end, Gerber provides more information about identifying trees simply by trunks and branches as she reinforces the seasonal life cycle in this quiet, poetic and scientific book.

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Feeling sleepy? You'll be surprised how much your body and mind accomplish while you're sawing logs. Read all about it in Elaine Scott's All About Sleep: From A to Zzzz (Viking, $17.99, 58 pages, age 9 and older).

In short chapters accompanied by John O'Brien's entertaining black-and-white sketches, Scott describes what sleep is, where we go when we do it, and why and how we dream. Most entertaining of all are the sleepwalking stories, including one story of a boy who discovered a buried hatchet right where he dreamed it would be.

Perfect stories for chilly, dark evenings. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy!