Review: Happy Birthday, Trees!

Review: Happy Birthday, Trees! by Karen Rostoker-Gruber

Category: Board Books
Reviewer: Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili

In the latest board book offering from Kar-Ben, Happy Birthday, Trees! celebrates the holiday of Tu B’Shevat with a group of three children who go through all the various steps involved in planting a tree. Author Rostoker-Gruber starts the story right at the beginning of the process with grabbing a shovel and digging a hole. Each double-page spread includes a rhyming couplet followed by a repetition of the first line, which will make the book easy to follow along for children. The verses are playful and humorous, such as “Then, we’ll spray the garden hose, / and wet the tree (and soak our clothes). / On Tu B’Shevat we’ll spray the hose!” After the tree grows through the different seasons, the children get to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to it and circle it in dance. With spring’s arrival, the book ends satisfyingly with the children seeing their tree in full bloom. Sterling’s illustrations are both gentle and animated, and the characters depicted in the story are a diverse and inclusive group, with one of the toddlers being a dark-skinned boy wearing a kippa.

Happy Birthday, Trees! would be a welcome addition to preschools as an introduction to the holiday of Tu B’Shevat for the age group for which it was written as children will come away with a basic understanding and appreciation of how a tree is planted. 

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Reviewer Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili is the author of several books for children including THE MYSTERY OF THE LOST WATCH, I LOVE MATZAH, THERE’S A REASON WHY!, and GOLDIE AND THE GUESTS. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, a children’s book illustrator, and their team of future writers and illustrators. (Bio illustration courtesy of Michael Biniashvili.)