In these days of quarantine, the best way to travel is through books. While I read, I make a list of places to go when it is safe to travel again. I am sharing a book today that has definitely piqued my curiosity and I’m already planning a future trip to Massachusetts.
THE VERY OLDEST PEAR TREE
By Nancy I. Sanders (author) and Yas Imamura (illustrator)
Albert Whitman & Company (2020)
Picture book for ages (and history-loving adults)
Themes: Trees, American History, Arbor Day, Agriculture
The story begins…
“Wild waves of the Atlantic Ocean tossed the wooden boat as it sailed west. Crisp sea breezes blew the crew working at the rigging, and shivered the leaves of a little pear tree onboard.”
This is the amazing true story of the first pear tree planted in America that has become a part of history. This tree crossed the ocean with a group of saplings in 1630. The Governor of Salem, John Endecott, planted it in front of his farm home and carefully tended it.
This tree, known as the Endicott pear, grew and produced bushels of fruit. But then the real story begins. The tree survived fire and continued to grow as the surrounding landscape changed. It was still producing fruit in 1775 when the Revolutionary War began. The tree continued to thrive through the Industrial Revolution and inspired poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the holiday of Arbor Day. It survived fierce storms and urbanization but nearly succumbed when vandals hacked away the limbs. Miraculously, the tree sprouted again and still stands after nearly 400 years!
Why you need to add THE VERY OLDEST PEAR TREE to your book shelves:
- This is a story which is so fantastic that it almost doesn’t seem possible. Author Nancy I. Sanders conducted extensive research using original documents and interviews to create a fascinating book.
- The beautiful art has a vintage feel and with bright colors flowing across the pages. I especially like the way illustrator Yas Imamura depicted the different time periods through the clothing and architecture of each era.
- There are so many ways it can be used in the classroom. The history of the tree is a marvelous way to teach an overview of the growth of the U.S. from its Puritan times to today. In addition, science is woven into the text as the growth and regrowth of the tree is explained.
- It provides a great springboard for discussion. Why would vandals want to destroy an old and beloved tree? What stories could this tree tell? How could a tree live for so long?
- THE VERY OLDEST PEAR TREE is a story of hope and survival which now, more than ever, we all need.
Here is a postcard to readers of THE VERY OLDEST PEAR TREE from author Nancy I. Sanders:
BONUS: Visit Nancy I. Sanders educator’s guide for information about ordering a clone of the Endicott Pear so that you can grow your very own tree!
Here’s a kid-friendly pear snack: