09 September 2014

Book Review: Trees of Western North America

Being a science nerd came early for me.  In 6th grade I decided to join the Science Olympiads team at my school.  My assignment was Tree ID and I studied for the next 3 months so I could compete at the state level.  My tattered little Golden Guide to Eastern Trees was well used and supplemented by my advisors personal Tree ID collection that she had created in college.  Mrs. Hammond was so old that she had taught my mom in high school and even then, she wasn’t young.  So this old collection of leaves and my guide were all I had to take me to a Third Place finish at States.  I was ecstatic at winning but more importantly my love of trees had settled in quietly.

Being an East Coast girl my whole life made me always feel at home in any forest.  Even in South Florida I quickly picked up the new ones and the exotics to add to the growing collection of tree knowledge.  Then I moved to Colorado and what once was so familiar became foreign.  I admit, I have been slow to learn the new trees of the region but now I have no excuse because Trees of Western North America arrived for me to review and it’s given this tree-loving nerd a new mission.

On first glance, I really like that the illustrations provide a tree silhouette, a leaf, a fruit, and a bark sample for each specimen.  The bark is something that I haven’t seen in every tree guide and I really like it.  Coming in at just over 550 pages, this compact guide actually is fairly small in the hand albeit heavy. It’s a beautiful reference for nature buffs like me, for teachers, or even as a reference for more scientific pursuits.  I like that it’s very clear and concise while still packing a lot of information.  The range maps and the text are a little small but don’t present a problem with my current vision.  I think this would make a wonderful guide for anyone and who knows, it may just fall into the hands of a young middle-school kid and change his/her life forever.

But don't take my word for it, check out a book plate for yourself: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10216.pdf

This review copy was provided by Princeton University Press.

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