The Tree That Bear Climbed

School Library Jounal - July 2012

"This cumulative, nondescript text, in the spirit of “The House That Jack Built,” focuses on the growth of a tree and the natural inhabitants that impact the great outdoors. Gentle, lightly colored spreads depict the tree from the ground up, providing a higher and higher perspective as branches reach out to the sky. Phrases naturally build with a growing intensity as more elements come into view. “These are the branches/that stretch from the trunk/that stands in the rain/that waters the soil/that feeds the roots/that anchor the tree/the bear climbed.” The focus remains on the tree at all times; soil, placed in someone’s hands without a face in view, showcases the sturdy trunk in the background. As bees collect the pollen from the flower blossoms, the encroaching bear sticks out his tongue for a delightful slurp; the accompanying spread shows the animal (now small in stature on all fours) as he scurries away from the swarming insects. Concluding educational resources include teacher activities".
Meg Smith, Cumberland County Public Library, Fayetteville, NC

Horn Book Guide - April 2013

"This cumulative poem in the style of "The House That Jack Built" explains--step by step--how a hive full of honey came to be hanging in "the tree that bear climbed." Handsome realistic artwork shows a close-up of each detail, from roots to honey, then depicts the whole tree with a touch of humor, as bear flees the angry bees. Includes activities and plant facts."

Library Media Connection - January 2013

In a twist on “The House That Jack Built,” a rhythmic repetition describes parts of a tree. The vocabulary gives the purpose for each component of the tree in basic terms. The close-up and realistic illustrations add each fragment of the tree until the reader sees the reason why bear climbed that particular tree. It’s an impressive introduction to trees and life cycles and would pair wonderfully with a fiction title about trees. The book also contains curricular topics, more information, scientific experiments, and activities. The publisher’s website has online activities and additional links. Lisa Wright, Media Coordinator, West Yadkin Elementary, Hamptonville, North Carolina [Editor’s Note: Available in e-book format and paperback.] RECOMMENDED

Kirkus Reviews - June 2012

Beginning with the roots, Berkes introduces one part of the tree or its environment at a time: soil, rain, trunk, branches, leaves, sun, blossoms and pollen. Each new addition to the cumulative "House That Jack Built" rhyme provides a little information: “This is the rain / that waters the soil / that feeds the roots / that anchor the tree / that bear climbed.” This last line (and the book’s title) may seem odd to children who are reading all about the tree’s needs, but once the bees and their hive and their honey enter the poem, it is not hard to guess how the bear gets involved, nor what will happen to him when he does. Two spreads of backmatter extend the learning, with a huge treasure trove of additional educational materials posted on the publisher’s website. Two pages teach readers about the basic needs of plants and the interaction between plants and animals. Two pages of activities challenge children to match a tree’s parts to their descriptions and conduct some experiments with plants. Rietz’s detailed artwork uses natural colors to great effect—readers will almost smell the blossoms on the tree and hear the buzzing of the bees with their furry bodies and transparent wings.

Booklist Online - October 2012

This twist on “This Is the House That Jack Built” introduces young readers to the parts of a tree, from root to tippy-top branches. Beginning with “these are the roots / that anchor the tree / that bear climbed,” the poem builds cumulatively, as we move up into the branches, to the leaves, and then, finally, to a beehive. (One guess what the climbing bear is after.) While the bear is referenced at the end of each verse, he doesn’t make his grand entrance until the second to last spread. This serves to build anticipation, but kids may become disinterested as page after page detailing the tree passes. Patient children may learn a bit about tree health—including the importance of sunlight and water—along the way. The same basic scene repeats, but Rietz gamely mixes up her naturalistic illustrations by adding small details, like a squirrel, and by playing with time of day or season. An afterword discusses the basic needs of plants, and offers up four hands-on experiments.

Midwest Book Review - February 2013

What makes a tree so appealing to climb? "The Tree That Bear Climbed" is a charming children's picturebook from Marianne Berkes, as she presents a twist on the tale The House That Jack Built, following bear as he ascends a tree and sees everything that the tree has to offer him as he climbs its heights. "The Tree That Bear Climbed" has a strong appreciation for nature, a worthy consideration for those seeking children's picturebooks.

Epinions - June 2012

Marianne Berkes’ book, The Tree That Bear Climbed, opens with the “roots that anchor the tree that bear climbed” and continues with “this is the soil that feeds the roots that anchor the tree that bear climbed.”  This cumulative rhyme introduces young readers to the parts of the tree and their functions.

The trunk stands in the rain, branches stretch from the trunk, and leaves form from those branches.  Outside influences include rain, sun and eventually bees and a hive.  It doesn’t take long to realize why this is a tree that the bear climbed.  Not only does this teach but it encourages laughter.  Children sensitive to bees might become so involved in the story that they’ll begin to worry about the bear.  The final page is funny. 

Kathleen Rietz has illustrated numerous books including Dogs Get Cancer Too. Her realistic illustrations demonstrate her own passions for nature.  The bark is far more textured than that of many trees in children’s books. The lumpy soil that feeds the roots looks like something I’d scoop out of the ground rather than just a mass of brown.  Even the sky has texture and fluffy clouds, but it’s the cute squirrel, the fuzzy bees, their hive, and the bear they’ll enjoy most.

Classic Children's Books - November 2012

My kids love this book. The story is very repetitive and familiar to the ear. The pictures are huge and really get the kids involved in the story. Usually when I read a story like this I hand it to the kids when I'm done and both Sierra (3) & Connor (5) will try their hand at "retelling" the story. During our reading of the story we talk about the parts & the various needs of a tree - there is the soil, the sun, rain, blossoms, leaves and so on making this a great beginning science book for kids 3 and up.

So Cal City Kids San Diego - January 2013

I had the pleasure of reviewing The Tree That Bear Climbed by Marianne Berkes and Illustrated by Kathleen Rieetz. I could tell in an instant that this was going to be a book for my kids to learn from and enjoy. Told in the same repetition style as the classic, The House That Jack Built, The Tree That Bear Climbed delightedly entertained my son and daughter with it’s rhythmic prose.

It is the perfect book to introduce the parts of tree, learn about where a tree gets nourishment, how the tree attracts bees, and how the bee’s hive attracts a curious bear!

2nd Grade Reading - January 2013

Ideal for use with second grade or any young student studying the plant cycle, because it introduces the concept in such a lighthearted way. Good companion for a nature walk. This would be a great class read aloud with its catchy rhyming text and lovely nature paintings that are the illustrations. It is also good for a center activity or self-study not only because of its second grade reading level, but because of the additional experiments and quizzes in the back of the book. There is also a wealth of literacy activities, including worksheets, on the publisher’s website

Home School Book Review - December 2012

In addition to the fun, cumulative story that children will enjoy reading for themselves or hearing read aloud, the four pages of “For Creative Minds” learning activities include additional information on the basic needs of plants, plant body parts, and how plants interact with animals, along with some hands-on plant experiments.

Heck of a Bunch - October 2012

The Tree That Bear Climbed is a book similar to the famous Mother Goose nursery rhyme.  It has a lot of repetition that allows children to remember the previous lines and build up from it until the ending.  With rich illustrations, this book is a good read for younger children.  In the "Creative Minds" section in the back of the book, children can learn more about how plants and animals interact, learn about the basic needs of plants, engage in a plant body part matching activity, and find out how to do some plant experiments.

Sally's Bookshelf - January 2013

Marianne Berkes puts a creative twist on the classic "House that Jack Built" and comes up with a story that is not only fun to read - and full of wonderful rhythmic repetition - but also helps explain a whole lot about plants. Beginning with "These are the roots that anchor the tree that bear climbed."

Butterfly Wishes and Wonderland Dreams - December 2012

Very cute book for the animal lover, bear lover child in your life. Love how this not only teaches about trees but also gives you some insight into bears. Great for kids of all elementary ages but perfect for the younger child also!

Mymcbook Blog - October 2012

The Tree That Bear Climbed is a rhyme book with repetition that allows children to remember every word.

“There are the roots that anchor the tree that bear climbed.” “This is the soil that feeds the roots that anchor the tree that bear climbed.” “This is the rain that waters the soil that feeds the roots that anchor the tree that bear climbed.”

There are 4 pages of learning activities where children can learn about the basic needs of plants, plant body part, how plants and animals interact and Hands On: Plant Experiments. Great illustration by Kathleen Rietz which helps brings this story to life. I highly recommend this book for classroom teaching.

Learning Table Reviews - October 2012

As a homeschooling mom, I appreciate the ease of having resources available that simplify planning and stretch learning materials further, especially when they are of such nice quality that they are a pleasure to use.  Combine that with a great story, and it's a win/win.

Outnumbered 3 to 1 - October 2012

What a fun read that any child would enjoy. I truly enjoyed reading this one to my daughters. I especially loved the beautiful illustrations throughout this book. We are bear lovers in our family. This was my go to book out of the new releases that I wanted to read over and over again.

Tif Talks Books - May 2013

Berkes continues her tale, building both the tree and the story to the very top.  Readers learn the parts of the tree, starting with the roots and ending with a little surprise.  I also discovered that as I read the tale to my own children, they even began chanting the last lines to the story right along with me, making it a very fun and educational read-aloud.

Plant Talk: Inside the New York Botanical Garden - March 2018

The Tree That Bear Climbed is a wonderful way for young readers to learn about the parts, lifecycle, and ecosystem of a tree. The repetitive narrative helps readers to follow the building plot, while the illustrations throughout the book begin up close on specific areas of the tree and zoom out to reveal the whole scene. Toward the end of the book, you will find additional information about plants and ecosystems as well as a hands-on experiment and an activity related to the story suited for comfortable readers.

M. G. Paregian - November 2018

Another exciting hardback book about one of the most fascinating animals: bears (as long as they keep a reasonable distance from human beings). This fact-packed book shows how the environment plays such an important part in the existence and growth of bears. Even bees have an influence on bears. Also included: For Creative Minds; Plant Body Part Matching Activity; How Plants and Animals Interact; and Hands On: Plant Experiments. And much more!