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Saturday, November 1, 2014


I've only ever written one book that's just about trees--OUTSIDE AND INSIDE TREES.  However, as I looked back through the books I've written, I discovered something very interesting. Trees--sometimes whole forests--are an important part of many of my books.   

Check it out!

In THE CASE OF THE VANISHING HONEYBEES (Millbrook/Lerner) almond trees are possibly one reason entire colonies of honeybees are vanishing--and thought to probably be dead.

California's almond blossom season is the single biggest pollination event in the world.  

Over one million beehives full of worker bees are needed for about a months. So beekeepers truck in lots of hives, each full of its colony of honeybees.

Having lots of bees on hand is the only way orchard owners can make sure nearly every blossom on their almond trees is visited by a bee.

That's what has to happen. The blossom produces a little sweet nectar. 

A bee pushes into the blossom to collect that nectar and in the process picks up a little pollen, the male reproductive cells. A little pollen from another tree is also dropped off. That fertilizes the flower's ovules, the female reproductive parts.

What's good for the trees is hard on the bees. Beekeepers transport their hives from all over the U.S. to California but they arrive early, ahead of the trees blooming. So they have to feed their bees a sugary syrup to keep them going. It's not a healthy diet. And because of it the worker bees are weaker than normal. And the bees have just come from pollinating other crops.

Being overworked could be one reason honeybees are dying causing honeybee colonies to collapse. 
Do you think honeybees should be trucked to different places to pollinate crops? Why? Or why not?

Read the CASE OF THE VANISHING HONEYBEES to find out at least two other things that could be effecting honeybees.

A tree plays a dramatic role in my book LITTLE LOST BAT (Charlesbridge).

In this story, the mother bat leaves her baby in the bat colony's cave nursery and goes hunting for insects to eat. On night, she passes a tall oak tree.

Read this story to see what is in that tree.
Keep reading to find out what happens next.

And keep on reading to find out happens at the very end of this story.

Trees are a key part of my story FINDING HOME (Charlesbridge).

First, something happens to a forest to start this story. What happens?

Then there is a big search for one kind of tree. Why is that?

Finally, list five steps that tell what happens along the way to finding that special kind of tree.
FINDING HOME is an exciting story. And people lend a helping hand. 
So don't miss finding out what happens.

A tree stars in my book BUTTERFLY TREE (Peachtree Publishing).  This story is based on one of my very own childhood experiences. I grew up in Ohio near Lake Erie. And one autumn, I had the unique chance to see the migrating Monarch butterflies come across the lake and settle into a forest for the night.

Read this story to see where the butterflies spend the night. It will surprise you!

Next, write your own story. Make up a story where a tree plays a key part.

What tree's fruit is a pod the size of a football, hard as wood on the outside and full of beans surrounded by white pulp?  
Did you guess its a cacao tree?  

CHOCOLATE: A Sweet History (Grosset & Dunlap) is a whole book starring the cacao tree. Yes, it's true. Chocolate is made from cocoa powder. And cocoa powder is made from the seeds of the cacao tree.

Ready to dig for treasure? Then read this book to find facts you can treasure an share with your friends and family.
How did the ancient Mayans make chocolate spicy?
What king was the first to sweeten chocolate?
Why did Antarctic explorers take chocolate with them to the South Pole?
Why does chocolate sometimes turn gray?

There are even trees featured in WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL TEETH!?  and WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL HAIR!? (Scholastic). Can you find them?

For that matter, you couldn't read a printed copy of any of my books if it wasn't for trees. 
If it wasn't for trees, there wouldn't be wood pulp.
If it wasn't for wood pulp, there wouldn't be paper.
If it wasn't for paper, there wouldn't be printed books.

Clearly, trees are very important to me.