Have you ever built a treehouse? Where did you build it? I bet it was in your backyard. Imagine building a treehouse in a public park. How would you accomplish that without anyone noticing? Especially when the park is in a busy city full of people!
Up in the Leaves is a fascinating story about Bob Redman. As a boy, he found solace climbing trees in Central Park. The trees provided space away from crowded living in Manhattan. He began building treehouses in the park.
But there was a problem. When Redman built a treehouse, someone would take it down. This did not discourage him. He continued to build structures, each one grander than the one before.
The story has a wonderful ending; one that I won’t share here because I don’t want to ruin it for you. I’ll say this, though. It’s nice to have empathetic people in the world that find smart ways to solve problems.
Author Shira Boss didn’t have to travel far to research this story. Redman happens to be her husband! They met when she needed help from an arborist. Guess who answered the call? You guessed it. It was Bob Redman.
I am a big fan of Jamey Christoph, the illustrator of this story. His style has a sort of retro feel that I appreciate. Readers will enjoy seeing Central Park from a birds-eye view. The illustrations evoke a quiet calm in a noisy city.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: I.A.1 Learners engage with new knowledge by formulating questions about a personal interest or a curricular topic.
Prepare for the lesson by drawing a tree without leaves on a piece of chart paper. Cut shapes of leaves from construction paper.
Open the book to the end of the story and read the epilogue. Ask learners what questions they have about growing a healthy tree in a congested city. Write questions on shapes of leaves and tape them to the tree.
Introduce Bob Redman’s website. Ask learners what questions they have after reading about his services. Direct them to write their questions on leaves and tape them to the tree.
Invite a local arborist to answer questions. This can be done in person, or through email.
If you like this lesson idea, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.
Check out Outside My Window, a thought-provoking book illustrated by Jamey Christoph.