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Grandmother Oak

An oak tree tells of her long life.

Photo of Anya Rose
9 0

Written by

Come close to me and listen
To a story long and lively.
On my bark there may grow lichens
Crawling up me, dark green ivy.

I am old now, you can see it
In my rings and in my height
My sisters come in red, in black, 

In chestnut, swamp, and white.


Gather round beneath my branches 

Can you hear the rustling?
Can you see the bluejays pecking--

Listen, chickadees-dees sing!

I sprouted in the springtime,
The soil like a hug,
A squirrel must have buried me,
Then forgot where she had dug.

Happy I had sun and rain
To help my branches grow.
And luckily that winter
I survived my first big snow.

I was 30 when a working truck
Screeched past and scarred my side
And 40 was my age
When I got hollowed out inside.

I was 50 when my acorns came
In bushels and in pecks
And 60 when the insects ate
Each leaf I put out next.

At 65, it rained and rained
My acorns wouldn't come.
At 66, the year was dry,
The locusts hummed and hummed.

And here I am at 70,
I've still got years to go.
My trunk is strong and steady,
And ever still, I grow.

And if you come around sometime

And walk around below me,

You’ll find my acorns, leaves, and twigs, 

Come close and get to know me! 

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

This story is intended to supplement outdoor exploration with caregivers. Children are naturally enthralled by nature, and oak trees are plentiful in many areas in the US, both urban and rural. Their twigs, leaves and acorns provide children with many opportunities for discussion, musings, and investigations.

Share your suggested book title

Grandmother Oak

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

Come close to me and listen To a story long and lively. On my bark there may grow lichens Crawling up me, dark green ivy. I am old now, you can see it In my rings and in my height My sisters come in red, in black, In chestnut, swamp, and white. Gather round beneath my branches Can you hear the rustling? Can you see the bluejays pecking-- Listen, chickadees-dees sing! I sprouted in the springtime, The soil like a hug, A squirrel must have buried me, Then forgot where she had dug. Happy I had sun and rain To help my branches grow. And luckily that winter I survived my first big snow. I was 30 when a working truck Screeched past and scarred my side And 40 was my age When I got hollowed out inside. I was 50 when my acorns came In bushels and in pecks And 60 when the insects ate Each leaf I put out next. At 65, it rained and rained My acorns wouldn't come. At 66, the year was dry, The locusts hummed and hummed. And here I am at 70, I've still got years to go. My trunk is strong and steady, And ever still, I grow. And if you come around sometime And walk around below me, You’ll find my acorns, leaves, and twigs, Come close and get to know me!

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

This book was informed by my fourteen years' experience as a science teacher and outdoor educator. Outdoor exploration provides many opportunities for children to ask questions and to talk about what they observe. In investigating acorns with young students, I have observed their excitement at finding grubs inside, learning that some acorns float while some sink, or simply collecting and counting acorns. Additionally, there is also an element in this book about counting years of age, reminding young children that they are not the only ones who change and get older every year.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I live in Philadelphia and grew up here! Philadelphia is full of both urban and woods areas, both of which are home to oak trees. Philadelphia has many environmental organizations and schools that aim to give students outdoor experiences.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

First, many children in the urban parts of Philadelphia, for example, are raised by their grandparents or aunties. This book is told from the point of view of an old oak tree, much like a grandparent or auntie telling a grandchild of their history. Second, many children in Philadelphia will see hardship and learn to become resilient in the face of adversity, similar to the tree in the story. "Grandmother Oak" continues to steadily grow despite drought, insects, flooding, and other forms of hardship. She uses these hardships to add to her story. Third, this book familiarizes students with a common city tree and its seeds.

Location: Country

United States

Location: State or Department

PA

Location: City

Phila.,

Website URL (optional question)

https://tobearose.wordpress.com/ https://www.antsonalogmusic.com/ (I am half of this duo)

Tell us more about you / your team

I am an elementary science teacher with an environmental education background. I value nature and I strive to help my students find ways to connect positively with the outdoors. Ask me about maple syrup and acorn pancakes! I am also half of the musical duo, Ants on a Log, performing regularly in the Philadelphia area to children of all ages. We are putting out our latest album in April, "Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline!" about two siblings who mobilize their community for renewable energy (best for children above age 6). The story for the musical was based on actual events in Philadelphia, involving low income neighborhoods and the effects of air pollution on the people who live there. (My musical partner, Julie Beth, is also submitting here, with the story, "Some Girls Have Short Hair.") Attached is a photo of me with my 4th grade students on the day we tapped the maple trees on campus, and a song that I helped a student write about maple trees.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

I'm not sure. But I do like this image of a tree, seen from below. It gives it a very regal quality. That tree looks like it has a lot to say.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

If yes, please list titles and publications.

My musical albums have been published. Nothing in book form yet. Albums: "Have You Seen My Hat?" as Anya Rose "You Could Draw the Album Art!" with Ants on a Log "Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline!" with Ants on a Log

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists
  • Teacher

9 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Itika Gupta
Team

Hi Anya Rose welcome to the Challenge Community!
Such a profound title, idea and story. Absolutely loved it. There is really so much that children and caregivers alike can learn from trees, both literally and metaphorically.
I can't wait to see how your manuscript evolved over the coming weeks.
Since your final readers will be from the age group of 0-3 yrs, it may be interesting to tweak the manuscript to make it simpler, rhythmic and more engaging for your readers. You can learn more about early childhood development and tips on writing for this age group in the “Challenge Resources” listed at the end of the Challenge Page.

Photo of Anya Rose
Team

Thanks Itika. Is there a separate stage for adjusting the manuscript?

Photo of Itika Gupta
Team

Hey Anya Rose thanks for reaching out.
We have reached out to each of you amazing storytellers individually to inform you if your story has made shortlist phase. You should have an email in your inbox from us.
Let me know if there is anything else I can help with

Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

Beautifully written, lovely idea! Agree with Itika, perhaps simplify it slightly for the 0-3year old age group?

Photo of Anya Rose
Team

Thanks. I wasn't sure, is there a refining stage?

Photo of Jennifer Buis
Team

Anya, You have written a wonderful story about nature! The detail reminds me of a 200 year old White Oak that our family gathered around one warm Thanksgiving holiday! Thank you for this warming story of the Grandmother Oak! Grandparents and grandchildren and parents were moved by the simple experience fir years to come. Great job! Best wishes today!

Sincerely,
Jennifer Buis
Author of Buddy Goes To Clark Park
(Based on a true story and told through the eyes of our rescue dog Buddy.)

Photo of Anya Rose
Team

Thank you!

Photo of Robert Smith
Team

Hi Anya Rose ,

I enjoyed your story told from the POV of an aging oak tree.
Like you, I think inanimate objects have much to share and that their tales resonate with children.
I'm unfamiliar with Philadelphia. Are other species of trees common in the urban areas?
Nicely done!

Photo of Dawnnbooks .
Team

I like the title. The story itself is really a life lesson. Tress live long and have seen it all.