|| If a tree falls in the forest... someone or something will always be there to hear it. Many, many creatures will feel the effects when their source of sustenance and shelter falls to the earth. So when a man is sent into the Amazon rain forest one day, under instructions to chop down a great kapok tree, many eyes watch him nervously. It's not long before he grows tired, though, and the "heat and hum" of the rain forest lulls him to sleep. One by one, snakes, bees, monkeys, birds, frogs, and even a jaguar emerge from the jungle canopy to plead with the sleeping ax-man to spare their home. When the man awakens, startled at all the rare and marvelous animals surrounding him, he picks up his ax as if to begin chopping again, then drops it and walks away, presumably never to return.
Unfortunately, there's always someone else who is willing to take his place, but the message of this environmental book is plain: Save the rain forest! The story itself is not overly compelling, but each personalized entreaty from the animals provides an accurate and persuasive scientific argument for preserving nature's gifts. Lynne Cherry's fertile watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations, including a map of the tropical rain forests of the world, are vivid and colorful. A fine starting point for a discussion about conservation. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter