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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Alamo Tree: The History Tree Series, Volume 1 is an educational picture book for children written by Tana S. Holmes and illustrated by Mahfuja Selim. The author is an educator and lover of nature who uses story trees to ignite an interest in history in young readers, while also helping them learn to appreciate the old-growth trees which are living witnesses to history. The Alamo Tree is a historic live oak tree found within the walled enclosure of the Alamo mission where a small group of Texans stood up against the vastly superior forces of the Mexican General Santa Anna. The tree tells the story of those Texans and narrates how the survivors of the 13-day siege in 1836 were allowed to survive to pass on the news.
Tana S. Holmes’ Alamo Tree brings history and ecology to young readers in a fun and fascinating way. I love the concept of the history trees, which stresses the fact that these huge old trees are not only living beings but also mute witnesses to so much of human history. In her series, Holmes gives them voices and challenges children to hear the voices and respect the wisdom of old-growth trees everywhere. Her differentiation between the story clearly for children and those sections given with the caregiver’s judgment in mind makes this a book kids can grow with and enjoy experiencing with their parents/teachers. Mahfuja Selim’s brightly colored illustrations remind me of the work of early Classic Comic books. Davy Crockett, Santa Anna, and of course the Alamo Tree all spring to life brilliantly under her touch. Alamo Tree: The History Tree Series, Volume 1 is most highly recommended.