Wednesday, March 23, 2011

M4 The Tree that Time Built (A LS5663 Review)

Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2009. The Tree that Time Built. Brainerd, Minnesota: Bang Printing. ISBN: 978-1- 4022-2517-8.

     Charles Darwin was convinced that the universe and all beings and substances were connected. After traveling the world, he came home and created a diagram that he named Tree of Life, which later developed into his theory of evolution. The Tree that Time Built organizes poems from various poets into an exploration of the trees and branches of Darwin’s tree. The main trunk is life, and the book is organized into sections covering birds to dinosaurs and everything in between. Each section has an introduction with a brief history of Darwin’s ideas about that topic. Many poems have questions or comments at the bottom of the page, which spark self-reflection. The book also includes a glossary and a short biography for each poet included in the compilation. A CD, with forty-four poems read aloud, accompanies the book and provides enrichment for the reader.

     The poems included in the book range from old poems by Whitman to modern poems by Hoberman. The styles are different, but the reflection of man’s connection to nature and to animals connects all of the poems into a smooth read. Although the ideas range to man’s individuality like in Eve Merriam’s “Thumbprint” to the connection all of creation shares in Felice Holman’s “Who am I?”, the poems all support the notion that everything is intertwined and thus influenced by one another.

     Because Darwin’s theory of evolution states that everything is ever changing (albeit very slowly) and is dependent on the elements surrounding it, “Who am I?” is the perfect poem to introduce this book to students.

Who am I?

The trees ask me,

And the sky,

And the sea asks me,

                    Who am I?

The grass asks me,

And the sand,

And the rocks ask me

                    Who I am.

The wind tells me

At Nightfall,

And the rain tells me.

                    Someone small.

Someone small

Someone small

                    But a piece



                                All” (p. 167).

     Before students can understand how nature and man connect, they must first realize they are a part of the tree of life. Once they do, the poems will resonate more deeply with them. This poem can be used as a prompt for journal writing, class discussion, or self-reflection. After the students see a connection, many of the poems can be used during science lessons throughout the year. When learning about genetics, “Heredity” by Thomas Hardy can spark a discussion. Life cycles can be studied through the poems “Cocoon” by David McCord and “Butterfly” by D. H. Lawrence. Although few students may pick out this book to read since it is long and lacks colorful pictures, it is an excellent resource for science teachers who would like to add a bit of poetry to spark thinking and self-reflection as students learn about life and how people are connected to nature and to animals.

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