If I Were a Tree

By Booklist

With lyrical text and lush illustrations, this story of two siblings on a family camping trip emphasizes a multisensory experience of the outdoors. As they hike and explore—parents reassuringly nearby—they imagine the surrounding trees’ points of view: “If I were a tree, I know what I’d feel. / The warmth of the sun, and squirrels on the run . . . The climbing of boots, and worms by my roots.” Others highlight taste, smell, hearing, and sight, and there's an impressive amount of things to discover. The poetic conclusion, “I’d know what I’d know,” addresses the reliable, cyclical passage of time. Tsong's vibrant, textural, collage-like illustrations beautifully depict the multiracial family against backgrounds dense with detail, including various plants, wildlife, and the ever-present trees. Zimmerman's wide-ranging, idiosyncratic verses (“If I were a tree, I know what I’d taste . . . old, buried bones, and pebbles and stones”) read aloud well with lilting rhythm and thoughtful rhyme. With enchanting visuals, this contemplative picture book demonstrates not only what nature can offer but also the reward of new perspectives.