We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow and Bob Staake.
Published by Random House
Miss Beers’ class of third graders at Edison Elementary School in Tonawanda, NY read We Planted a Tree and asked the author Diane Muldrow and the illustrator Bob Staake some thoughtful questions. We’re sharing the answers from Ms. Muldrow today and Mr. Staake soon. We appreciate their support of NY students!
Bob Staake and Diane Muldrow at a Book Signing in 2010
From Ms. Muldrow:
- Is this based on a true story?
The story is inspired by true events. Many, many people in Kenya, a country in Africa, planted trees together, and helped make their country greener and healthier again as a result. Now the people are healthier, too. I was really moved by that. I live in Brooklyn, and Brooklyn has lots of trees, too. I wanted to show how people need trees in order to live and grow—which is why you see the Kenyan family and the Brooklyn family growing up over the course of the book. At the end of the book, the children have kids of their own, and the trees their parents planted have grown up, too. And I wanted children to understand that trees are living things.
I set the book in cities and places all over the world so that the reader would see people of many cultures enjoying trees, which are so necessary for life! I asked Bob to draw pictures of Paris, Central Park, and Italy among other places because they are some of my favorite places.
2. Are you interested in trees?
I love trees! I grew up near the woods. My friends and I loved playing in the woods. I’ve always loved the hushed sound and the cool feeling that trees give a place. I appreciate them even more now that I live in a city. I know that Bob loves them too. He can identify all sorts of trees.
3. Why did you repeat “We planted a tree”?
This book is a poem, and I think the line “We planted a tree” is powerful and simple at the same
time—so I wanted to say it over and over. And it shows what people can achieve when they work together.
4. What made you decide to write this story?
Ten years before I actually sat down and wrote the book, the title popped into my head. I thought, “Hey, that’s a great title!” I knew I’d eventually write it in the hopes of inspiring young people to think more about trees, but I took my time to think about what the book would be about. I’m so pleased that the book has been enjoyed by so many people since it came out last year.
5. Have you personally ever planted a tree? If so, where and when? Did you follow the growing of that tree?
I have helped plant six-foot-tall trees in pots on my terrace in Brooklyn. I enjoy them year round, because even in the winter I see them out the window and they make me happy. I remember watching my parents plant trees and bushes when I was little.
6. Why did you become an author?
I have written ever since I was very little. It is one of the ways I have always expressed myself. And it was something that came naturally to me. I love writing.
7. What are your routines in writing books? How do you do it?
I don’t really have a routine. When I get an idea, I think about it for a long time before I actually sit down to write it. I work full-time as an editor at Golden Books, so I usually only write on Sundays.
Diane Muldrow, May 2011