Inga Simpson (text) and Alicia Rogerson (illustrator), The Book of Australian Trees, Hachette Australia, May 2021, 32 pp., RRP $26.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780734418531
It seems quite fitting that a book about some of the wondrous towering trees of Australia should be presented in a corresponding proportion and this is what we hold in our hands when we first encounter The Book of Australian Trees – a book of vertical proportion – so the reader is within the trees from the very start.
This beautiful book is a homage to Australian trees. It tells the stories of their beauty, ways of adaptation, the protection and food source they provide for animals across the continent, and the cleansing nature of their gift to us – the air we breathe.
On each page, Simpson introduces an Australian tree, by common and botanical name. Many are familiar to us as she describes the unique features, its role in nature and its location. On the opposing page, Rogerson’s paintings demonstrate the massive majesty of the trees with close-up, full page images of the trunks rather than in its entirety. We are invited to investigate right into the surface of the bark; and, in the case of trees which are best identified by their flowers, Rogerson has chosen these as the identifier – Illawarra Flame Tree and ‘old man Banksia’.
This is a keep forever book that will always enlighten, inform, and engage. The inclusion of a Glossary of Terms at the end of the book is a handy reference guide when searching for a clear concise definition in response to questions that need answering straight away. The Book of Australian Trees will sit very nicely on many a coffee table and is sure to hold its prominence on bookshelves everywhere.
Reviewed by Jennifer Mors