Alison Ashley Formento is the author of multi-award-winning nature picture books This Tree Counts!, This Tree, 1, 2, 3, These Bees Count!, These Seas Count!, and These Rocks Count! (2014), all published by Albert Whitman & Company. Awards for these core-related books include the 2011 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People; The Green Prize for Sustainable Literature, Youth Picture Book, 2013 Children’s Book Council/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, 2013 Skipping Stones Honor Award Winner, 2014-15 Keystone State Reader Award Nominee, as well as being part of several state reading lists. Her debut young adult novel Twigs (Merit Press/F+W Media, 2013), was featured in Publisher’s Weekly as a notable new release for teen readers. Alison has written for several national publications including The New York Times, The Writer, and Parenting. She regularly visits schools, libraries, conferences, and festivals, and donates a portion of her book sales to AmericanForests.org.
These Seas Count!
Illustrated by Sarah Snow
On Beach Clean-Up Day, Mr. Tate’s field-trip-loving class heads to Sunnyside Beach to remove the old tires and trash people have dumped in the sand. Local ocean advocate Captain Ned tells the students the sea is sad and encourages them to listen to the ocean’s message spoken on the wind and waves. The ocean shares news of the many unique creatures that live in the water, from whales and turtles to sea horses that “gallop in a saltwater rodeo.” Captain Ned and Mr. Tate teach the children about the importance of keeping the seas clean for the sake of the food chain, the air produced by phytoplankton, and the planet. After cleaning up the beach, Captain Ned takes the class out on his boat to fish trash from the ocean so they can make the seas happy again. A hybrid counting book and environmental education lesson disguised as a story, this beautifully illustrated picture book paints a realistic picture of the impact litter has on beaches and ultimately, the world’s oceans. Though the message feels a bit heavy-handed at times, Formento’s passion for preserving nature is clear in both the text and the informative afterword. Snow’s digital collage illustrations bring a variety of textures to the page, including whimsical seagulls that look like they are made out of sock fabric. This book is part of the “Counts!” series that includes books about trees and bees, and will be most popular with teachers looking for Earth Day books or ways to tie conservation concepts into natural science studies. 2013, Albert Whitman, Ages 4 to 7, $16.99. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis (Children’s Literature).
This Tree Counts!
Illustrated by Sarah Snow
Can a tree talk? Yes it can, if you listen carefully. This is the question author Formento asks of her readers. In the back of Oak Lane School, one tree stands. Mr. Tate’s students decide that the lonely tree needs some friends so they decide to plant more trees. Mr. Tate tells his students that trees can speak if one listens carefully to them. Just look at the owl who sits on its branches, and the spiders that spin their webs on a tree’s limbs. And look at the four robins sitting in their nest high up in the tree. And if one looks and listens carefully, you can see the butterflies building their cocoons and the ants crawling along the tree’s bark. This is how a tree talks. Mr. Tate then asks his students to explain why trees are great. The students answer, because they make shade, they send out air to breathe, and their wood is used to make furniture. Finally, Mr. Tate tells the children that they are ready to plant ten baby trees. One of the students waves to the lonely big tree and says, “Have fun with your new friends.” This is a lovely book filled with colorful illustrations. 2010, Albert Whitman & Company, $16.99. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi (Children’s Literature).
This Tree, 1, 2, 3
Illustrated by Sarah Snow
The abridged board book version of This Tree Counts! depicts numbers from 1 to 10, beginning with “1 owl waits for the moon” through “10 worms glide.” Other animals who reside in and on the tree include spiders spinning, squirrels playing, robins singing, caterpillars inching, ants marching, crickets chirping, flies buzzing, and ladybugs climbing. Mr. Tate (not named in this text) and four multicultural students are shown hugging the tree in the beginning. Then the named animals are shown interacting with various parts of the large tree. At the end, one of the students announces, “This tree counts!” The illustrations are clear and colorful enabling young children to see and enumerate the objects on their own. The board book format makes this a good choice for toddlers who are beginning to learn their numbers. They will soon be “reading” the book independently with anyone willing to sit down and listen. 2011, Albert Whitman & Company, $7.99. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).
Alison’s presentations are designed for PreK to 8th grade and blend storytelling and language arts with trees, fun and wit. Children are invited to help make “Human Trees” and act as editors to choose the next story for Alison to write. For third grade and older, Alison offers writing workshops to share her “Idea Seeds” process. She shares her journalism experience, structure and tools for creating stories. A guided writing assignment will inspire children to use their own creative writing seeds.
To learn more about Alison Formento and her publications please visit www.alisonashleyformento.com.