Our Tree Named Steve

Our Tree Named Steve, by Alan Zweibel, illustrated by David Catrow

1treeStevebookA father writes a letter to his children, who are away visiting grandparents.  The letter tells the story of a tree, and also of the family through the years.

The family bought some land to build a house.  When they all went to see the land, the children found a large tree that held their attention.  The youngest child, who couldn’t say ‘tree,’ called the tree ‘Steve.’  The parents asked the builders not to cut Steve down during the house construction.
Steve was there from the start, and became a part of the family’s life, holding swings and jump ropes, standing as third base, or a hiding place.

“Yes, right there in the center of our yard, this weird-looking tree grew to become the center of our outdoor life.  Through all our barbecues, campouts, dance parties…Steve adjusted to our every need.”

Steve stood through snowstorms, an overflowing sewer, a tree doctor visit, and many other events.

“Through the years Mom and I have tried to show you, in a world filled with strangers, the peace that comes with having things you can count on and a safe place to return to after a hard day or a long trip.”

The father concludes the letter explaining that a storm came through their area, and that they couldn’t save Steve from the storm.  The huge tree snapped and fell over.

“But even in his final moments, when he could have fallen on our house, Sari’s swings, Kirby’s house, or Mom’s garden, Steve performed his last trick and protected all of us to the very end, and friends like this are hard to find.”

The book ends with a picture of a new tree house in another tree, perhaps made of Steve’s wood, and the family dog standing on a huge stump.

The illustrations are lively, and bring the story to life.  This is a fun picture book to share with your family.

The Tree Lady

The Tree Lady – The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry



Kate Sessions grew up in the woods of Northern California in the 1860’s.  Kate loved exploring the woods and didn’t mind getting dirty while playing.  In the 1860’s girls were not encouraged to study science.  But, Kate wanted to learn.



“Kate felt the trees were her friends.  She loved the way they reached toward the sky and how their branches stretched wide to catch the light.”

In 1881, Kate graduated from the University of California – the first woman to earn a degree in science from that university.  She took a teaching job in San Diego after graduation and found that town to be a desert-like place with very few trees.

After two years, Kate left teaching and worked to find trees that would grow in the dry soil.  She requested seeds from gardeners all over the world, and went to Mexico to hunt for trees that might thrive in San Diego.

Before long, Kate had a tree nursery – and her trees were planted all over town.  In 1909, the city officials announced the Panama-California Exposition would come to San Diego in 1915.  In preparation for this, they wanted more trees for the city park, Balboa Park.  Kate felt Balboa Park needed thousands more trees.  She invited friends to help and held tree-planting parties.

When the Exposition opened in 1915, Balboa Park had millions of trees and plants.  Visitors marveled at the wonderful plants and gardens and strolled in the cool shade.  Kate was given many awards over her lifetime, and continued working with and planting trees until her death in 1940.

“Back then, few could have imagined that San Diego would become the lush, leafy city it is today.  But all along, year after year, Katherine Olivia Sessions did.”

This is wonderful picture book about a woman who changed a desert town into a city filled with plants and trees – with the act of planting trees.  She was called “The Mother of Balboa Park.”  Kate Sessions used her courage, her love of trees, and her scientific knowledge to do this.  The author included a page with more detailed information about Kate Sessions.  A good book to share!