The Lonely Pine by Aaron Frisch (577.586 FrL 2011 PIC BK) is a lyrical look at a pine tree growing in the far north, past the tree line. Conditions are very harsh. Trees typically do not grow past a certain latitude or elevation due to extreme cold, lack of moisture, exposure to wind or poor soil conditions. This poem becomes a tribute then to this exception that manages to survive.
So, The Lonely Pine pays homage to a lone tree that,
...had grown where it should not.
The air was too bitter.
The ground too solid. Earth’s crown too close.
And yet, there it stood.
Month by month we are given a snapshot as to what this little tree endures, like January’s winds that throw “daggers of ice”, March’s cold “that made its limbs creak and needles jangle” or July’s sun that “finally showed its full face”.
We read that “the pine could only live. Live and watch and listen and feel.” So we too watch the polar bears, foxes, and migratory birds that inhabit the north, listen to the buzz of insects, and feel the earth tremble as herds of muskox pass.
Much of the information is conveyed through the illustrations (by Etienne Delessert) which depict the animals or conditions that may or may not be mentioned in the text. Some of the illustrations are a little too stylized for my taste and I had difficulty discerning what animal was shown in the month of July (maybe a wolf?).
Overall, I liked the book and would recommend it for the grade 6 science unit (in Alberta) about trees that asks students to learn about the importance and interactions of organisms and trees within specific habitats. Could provide a starting point for research about this topic.
I could also see this book used in higher grades in language arts as a good example of poetic use of language. I love the last line, which is also the title of today’s blog. It’s a testament to unacknowledged endurance and resilience.