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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Old Patriarch Tree: An Ancient Teton Pine Shares Stories of the American West is an educational historical storybook for children written by Tana S. Holmes and illustrated by Mahfuja Selim. Families have patriarchs, defined as the oldest living males in each family, and Grand Teton National Park has its own patriarch -- The Patriarch Tree, considered to be 1500 years old. And if a tree could talk, what stories this ancient Teton Pine could share with young listeners! It could speak about the Shoshone people who shared the land with it for centuries; the eventual appearance of explorers, scouts and guides; and then trappers eager to find fur-bearing animals, especially the beaver. It could speak of the missionaries who traveled through, and the settlers who built houses and started farming the land or raised cattle. And then, finally, the establishment of Grand Teton National Park as a place where nature is preserved for generations to appreciate and enjoy.
The book teaches kids history through a talking tree, The Old Patriarch Tree in Grand Teton National Park. Holmes includes detailed historical facts on each page under the heading Readers Guidance, suggesting that parents and caregivers decide whether the information given in small print is age-appropriate for their young listeners. I enjoyed the history lessons given by The Old Patriarch and found learning history in this fashion to be painless and ultimately rewarding. Tana S Holmes lets history unfold, just like the stories an old patriarch would tell. I appreciated the greater depth afforded in the Readers Guidance sections and understood the need for parental decisions on those sections. Mahfuja Selim’s illustrations work perfectly with the premise of this book. I loved the cartoon effects she uses to bring The Old Patriarch and other characters to life. The backgrounds of each panel are magnificent, especially those showing the Grand Teton Mountains and other natural features found in the area. Occasionally, one discovers a book that entertains as it educates. The Old Patriarch Tree is most highly recommended.