Winner of 2013 John Burroughs Association Riverby Award Honorable Mention
An engaging blend of science and storytelling for eight- to twelve-year-olds.
Judith L. Li
Illustrations by M. L. Herring
From the winter day when the Great Tree falls until the bloom of spring and early summer, ten-year-old Ellie and her new friend, Ricky, explore the Douglas fir forest where Ellie lives. They learn about how trees decay in a conifer forest, discover where a great diversity of critters live, and experience the wonder of seasonal changes. Delightful colored pen and ink drawings of forest habitats tell the “forest’s story,” while more intimate sketches bring to life the animal’s stories—for example, wrens hiding in the snow, flying squirrels drifting across the tree tops, and bats scouting at night. At the end of each chapter the simple notes and drawings of Ellie’s own field notebook are written in her hand. These pages provide examples of the data, notes, and drawings that children might use in creating journals of their own.
About the Forest
The forest where the Great Tree fell is a REAL place! -- the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in the Cascades Mountains of Oregon.
The HJ Andrews includes the whole watershed of Lookout Creek that flows into Blue River Reservoir, heading downstream to the McKenzie River.
There’s a big change in elevation within the forest - from the valley where Lookout Creek runs (at 1340 feet above sea level), to the mountain peaks (at 5340 feet).
Its old growth Douglas fir trees are more than 400 years old. Spotted owls, red tree voles, cutthroat trout and many other special animals live in those parts of the forest. In the 1950's, when other parts of the forest were cut, scientists began studying how the forest changed as trees grew back.
In 2020 the Holiday Farm fire that whipped through the McKenzie River basin burned parts of the research forest at the Andrews. Fire crews with the help of early fall rainstorms were able to prevent damage to cabins and other structures at the research station. In the future scientists will be using years of pre-fire data as they study the effects of the wildfire and forest regrowth.