Jack Pine

A story for kids in verse. How beautifully Groundwood made the book has me all the more sad it’s out of print. The opening verses:

Come meet Jack Pine. You’ll never see,
     with luck, a tree less lovely than –
a tree more bent, more squat, more grim,
     more weird and ugly than – Jack Pine.

He’s small and stunted. His branches twist
     and turn. In sunlight he looks mad
at you. In moonlight he’s a monster
     with seven arms and half a head.

He looks so greedy, holding tight
     to what he has, a clutch of cones.
They’re small and sharp and hard as stones.
     They never seem to fall or open.

What matters more than all of this –
     he’s useless. Just useless. No good
for lumber, ships, shingles or crates.
     Useless! He is less tree than weed.

Cybèle Young’s marvelous collage facing them:

Jack pine – p 3
Seven arms! Half a head!

More of Cybèle’s work here. What the bookflap’s got to say:

Jack Pine is an exquisite celebration of a tenacious tree. Found throughout Canada east of the Rockies, as well as in New England and the Great Lakes states, Jack Pine is a “nurse tree.” Hardy enough to survive wind and drought, it shelters the seedlings of other trees. Short and twisted, it had seldom been logged, but because it grows so well in bad soil, farmers in past centuries sometimes thought it had poisoned their land.

I took a story I found in Donald Culross Peattie’s Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America, and filled it out. I’d fill you in on that – but, spoiler?

Although, as said, it’s out of print. Want one? Drop me a note in the “Leave a Reply” box below, with contact info, and we can arrange it.

Jack Pine
It’s out of print, so if you’d like to buy one, leave a comment below, with contact info

Couple things said about the book:

“Informative and imaginative.” —Canadian Literature

“There’s a fine and pleasing symmetry here between the plain-spoken but ultimately eloquent verse and the unlovable tree and its ultimate nobility.” —The Globe & Mail

One of the ten best children’s books of the year. —Globe & Mail

Vancouver Opera commissioned Veda Hille to transform the book into an opera for kids. I was flattered & a bit skeptical – an opera, about trees? wouldn’t that be kinda like watching paint sing? & asking kids to watch that too? But she and they pulled it off wonderfully.


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