Someday a Tree by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ronald Himler
A poignant story about the death of an ancient oak and a young girl’s hope for the future. Alice lives with her parents and dog in the country. An oak tree that has been standing for generations is on their land. The tree is important to their family: Alice’s parents stopped there to have a picnic one day, which led to them purchasing the land and house, and Alice was christened under the tree. One spring day, Alice notices yellowing grass under the tree, then the tree’s leaves begin to wither and fall. A horticulturist is called in and discovers that the tree is dying due to chemicals in the soil, likely dumped there illegally. Alice and her family, as well as numerous neighbors, try to save the tree, but it is too damaged. Everyone is sad and angry at the fate of the tree, but then Alice has an idea. She takes one of the acorns from the tree and plants it a little distance away, far enough to be out of the contaminated zone. Published in 1993, but unfortunately still relevant today, this is a good way to introduce children to conservation issues. The watercolor paintings that accompany the text are soft and lovely.