Of acorns and forests

I recently had the joyful experience of working with a local author to illustrate a children's book on trees- specifically bur oaks. The author, Rita McKenzie, a retired urban forestry specialist at Purdue University, wrote the book Bur Oak Chronicles to give children an understanding of how trees grow and how to care for them. It's a beautiful combination of science writing and storytelling: the trees in the story are animate, the elder trees teaching the younger trees about the life and growth habits of their species. 

Cover design and illustration of Bur Oak Chronicles

Part of the fun of this project was that it provided the opportunity for me to work on a subject that I am passionate about. And, I loved concentrating on the particular nature of one beautiful species of tree, which I have loved since I was a little girl and climbed trees for a living (or wished I could do it for a living). I remember marveling at the muscular branches of the bur oak and collecting its strange acorns.

The bur oak acorn.

The miracle of life!

The miracle of life!

McKenzie's book also explains that cycle of life in a forest, and the necessity of decay. These were my favorite sections to illustrate.

Decaying leaves on the forest floor.

A fallen tree decomposing, enriching the forest ecosystem.

You can purchase Bur Oak Chronicles on Amazon, where it is available as a paperback and also an e-book on Kindle.