The Tree Suitcase


32 pages
ISBN 1-894042-01-8
DDC jC813'.54




Illustrations by Yvonne Cathcart
Reviewed by Lisa Arsenault

Lisa Arsenault is an elementary-school teacher in Ajax, Ontario.


In this picture book for young children, scientist David Suzuki explains
in simple terms the process of how trees grow.

Peter has been visiting his grandmother on the farm. When she offers
him a tree in a tree suitcase to take home to the city, an intrigued
Peter asks what a tree suitcase is. His grandmother explains the
necessities that promote and sustain life. The suitcase would need to
contain soil, water, seeds, air, and sunlight.

Suzuki invests these dry ingredients with magic, literally. Grandmother
explains that all these elements are magic. She tells Peter how violent
eruptions originally created soil. She speculates about whether alien
dump trucks from another galaxy delivered the dirt to earth. She
describes the magical properties of seeds and evokes the magic inherent
in the fact that the same soil, water, and air were all present long
before the dinosaurs.

The whimsical, brightly colored illustrations reflect the playful
nature of the text; they have an insouciant cartoon quality (the alien
dump trucks fly around in space and a brachiosaurus shares water with
Peter). A glossary and compendium of interesting facts about trees
reinforce the main text. A mini-terrarium, containing spruce tree seeds,
a pot, and peat sealed in a plastic case, comes accompanies the book.

The Tree Suitcase is highly recommended for its funny and creative, yet
informative, presentation of potentially dull facts.


Suzuki, David., “The Tree Suitcase,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 22, 2024,