This Old Madrone Tree

This story of the madrone and its animal neighbors will both comfort and enchant children as they come to understand the timelessness of nature’s cycles.

Author: Barbara Herkert
Illustrator: Marlo Garnsworthy
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 32
Ages: 5-9
Grade Levels: Pre K-3
Lexile: 520L
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1970039047
Price: $18.95
Where to Purchase:

“This gorgeous picture book featuring the Pacific Madrone tree is not to be missed! Told lyrically, this book takes readers through the natural territories and seasons alongside the powerful and elegant madrone tree. Throughout rain, snow, flora, fauna and the ever-changing world, the madrone is there, watching. Interacting with the fungi in her roots, providing shade for animals, watching waterfowl migrate-she is there. This book is an absolute must for elementary classrooms and libraries. The poetic prose draws readers in immediately to the madrone’s world, while providing nonfiction information. The watercolor artwork is visually stunning and pairs perfectly with the text. Additionally, the book has identifying field guides on the front and back covers, which readers will love using to find plants and animals in the book itself. There are additional resources available from the publisher. An about madrone trees and a map discussing locations of trees throughout the west can be found in the back of the book. Downloadable activities can be found on the publisher’s website to further students’ learning. This book will delight readers and is a wonderful read for younger to mid-elementary children.”—Children’s Literature

“The madrone tree, a strong centerpiece of the Pacific Northwest ecosystem, receives admiration and inspires wonder in Barbara Herkert’s This Old Madrone Tree. As readers follow a lone madrone tree through the various seasons and storms of the Northwest, they also learn about how its bark, berries, and flowers provide food, shelter, and life to other animals and plants in the region. The colorful, fluid, and brightly painted illustrations pair well with the elegant and poetic text, providing readers with a sense of awe, love, and enchantment of this powerful Pacific madrone. Further information on the madrone, including a map of its distribution in the region and an animal identification guide, are also provided as reference material.”—Butler’s Pantry

“This old madrone tree has stood above the ocean for a long, long time.” On an island in the middle of the ocean a madrone tree stands tall and proud. In the summer she welcomes herons, gulls, and eagles. In the fall her branches are ripe with berries for robins, flickers, and crows. In the winter she beckons for the animals to take cover from the wind and rain. In the spring she welcomes geese and other birds as her bark glows in the morning light. Deep in the ground her network of roots welcome fungi. As her branches produce flowers bees and butterflies come to feast. Through the seasons and weather and visitors the mighty madrone stands tall and proud through it all. A beautifully told and illustrated story about the wonder of nature and the cycle of life. (Ages 4-8)”—KidsBookshelf

“Fun, memorable, thoroughly ‘kid friendly’ from first page to last, This Old Madrone Tree will have a special appeal for children with an interest in the relationship of a tree to animals, birds, and other forms of life. This Old Madrone Tree is a singularly impressive, creatively original, and unreservedly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children.”—Midwest Book Review

“At the edge of the shore, an old madrone tree stood tall. She gladly received numerous guests and travelers by providing them a safe haven and wonderful fruits. Every season brought new visitors, which she relished. Herons, eagles, hummingbirds, geese, and her everyday resident, the fungus, all enjoyed her company. The book is the author’s ode to the madrone tree, elegantly seizing the essence of their optimism while delicately discussing its sacrifice. The illustrations are whimsical and capture the mood of the plot. This Old Madrone Tree by Barbara Herkert, gorgeously illustrated by Marlo Garnsworthy, can help children understand and cherish the beauty of trees and have a greater appreciation of nature.”—Nothing But Picture Books Reviews


Activities, Lesson Plans for Home and School, as well as Leveling Information. Download for free.

Click to download Research, Vocabulary, Art, and Literature Activities.

Click to download the Teacher’s Guide for these activities.

Click to view educational standards and leveling information.


Barbara Herkert

Barbara Herkert is the author of Sleep and other books for children. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from UC Santa Barbara and an MFA in Writing for Children and and Young Adults from Hamline University. She lives in Port Ludlow, Washington, on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula with a variety of wildlife and a madrone tree for company. To find out more about Barbara and her books, visit


Marlo Garnsworthy

Marlo Garnsworthy is an Australian-American author, illustrator, editor, science communicator, and naturalist. Her published works include fiction and nonfiction, though nonfiction and science are her passion. She has traveled extensively, frequently accompanying scientists working in the field, and spent two months on a scientific research expedition, sailing on an icebreaker from Antarctica through the planet’s roughest seas, in the Southern Ocean. She lives in Wakefield, Rhode Island. You can learn more about Marlo, her books, and her school presentations at