Former elementary school teacher Gena Rainaud’s children’s book is about a pine tree that doesn’t fit in with the other trees in the forest.
The Great Mountain tells the trees that they must do something spectacular at summer’s end. When cold weather comes and the other trees turn vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow, the pine tree retains its green needles, proving its uniqueness by staying the same color year-round.
Although it’s a lovely story idea – teaching children about nature and how to accept differences in others – the implementation is flawed. Most notably, the book is in rhymed poetic verse (with little attention to meter or syllables) formatted in paragraphs instead of the traditional stanzas that cue readers to the rhyme scheme. The author uses periods instead of line breaks to signify endings, which throws readers off-balance about how to read this material. The first paragraph demonstrates the problem: “In a place not far from here, where black bears live with moose and deer. Stood a Tired Old Mountain, tall and proud, with his ledges and peaks, he could reach the clouds.”
Additional problems include forced rhyme: “I am a Pine Tree, an evergreen you might say, and I’ve come to ask in your forest might I stay.” Even correct grammar is sacrificed for rhyme, a curious decision for a book meant as a teaching tool: “The trees all stared at each other in awe. The colors were the most vibrant they had ever saw.” Finally, sentence structure is often repetitious. Four sentences on one page begin this way: “The trees all gathered …,” “The trees all stared …,” “The trees all marched …” and “The trees all stood …” Colorful drawings, though also repetitious, of mountains, trees and a bird illustrate the book.
Despite its weaknesses, Evergreen’s gentle, well-intentioned story might appeal to young readers, although the poor mechanics may make parents think twice before buying the book.
Also available as an ebook.