Trout Are Made of Trees

Trout Are Made of Trees

  • 695

By: April Pulley Sayre / Illustrated by: Kate Endle

Climb the food chain!

How can a leaf become a fish? Join two young children and their dads to find out, as they observe life in and around a stream.

Energetic collage art and simple, lyrical text depict the ways plants and animals are connected in the food web.

Back matter provides information about the trout life cycle as well as conservation efforts that kids can do themselves.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

April Pulley Sayre, author

April Pulley Sayre is the award-winning author of over 50 books for young readers, including If You Should Hear a Honey Guide (Houghton Mifflin), Army Ant Parade (Holt), and One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab (Candlewick). Sayre's books, renowned for their lyricism and accuracy, have been translated into several languages. Sayre has a warm, fuzzy place in her heart for bumblebees. She flies around the country speaking to thousands of schoolchildren each year and has been known to encourage children to chirp and buzz as they explore the sounds of words and the joy of writing.

Read more about April.

Kate Endle, illustrator

Kate Endle was born and raised in Northeast Ohio. Encouraged to pursue her love of art, she attended The Columbus College of Art and Design where she received her Bachelor's degree in Illustration.

Read more about Kate.

Awards & Honors:

  • Junior Library Guild
  • Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year
  • Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award Reading List

Editorial Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

An unusual blend of narrative, poetry and science, this is an appealing introduction to the food web. Sayre's lyrical prose describes leaves falling into a stream where, after their surfaces are softened by bacteria and algae, they are eaten by crane flies, shrimp and other "shredders." These shredders are then eaten by unidentified predators, which are in turn eaten by trout. The text goes on to describe briefly the process of trout reproduction and then completes its journey through the food web with the final words: "Trout are made of trees. So are the bears and the people who catch the trout and eat them." Endle's illustrations feature, along with a vibrant natural setting in rich golden tones, two children actively engaged in observing and studying the stream. The illustrations, done in mixed-media collage, are a testament to the fact that wondrous things can be created out of the pieces of other things, and thus, they reinforce the theme of interconnectedness that is the heart of this offering.


A veteran science-book writer introduces the idea of the food chain in this attractive picture book. Sayre unfurls the process behind the intriguing title in a very simple text, explaining how leaves that fall from trees into a stream decompose to become food for aquatic creatures, which are eaten by trout, which eventually become a picnic meal for a man and three inquisitive children--who have observed the whole process and recorded findings in science notebooks. Although the time frame and Sayre's reference to bears at the close of the book ("Trout are made of trees, /So are the bears") are likely to require further explanation, kids will still get a sense of the interconnectedness of nature. Endle's collages are exceptional. Her minimalist figures (each with a similar round, smooth face and tiny dot eyes) are juxtaposed very effectively against crisp yet intricate, layered backgrounds of painted-and-patterned cut-papers. Nature remains the focus of each spread, but people appear in most, investigating what's happening--and enjoying every discovery.

Publishers Weekly

Returning to a familiar subject, Sayre (Trout, Trout, Trout) brings her ichthyological knowledge to bear in this primer on river ecology. "In fall, trees let go of leaves,/ which swirl and twirl/ and slip into streams." Alliterative verse zips to the point as it describes the tiny aquatic creatures that eat the leaves and begin a consumption cycle ("Crane flies, caddisflies,/ Shrimp, and stoneflies shred leaves./ Rip and snip!"). Studying this food chain, in Endle's (Bella and the Bunny) interpretation, are a boy and girl camping streamside with their dads. Mixed-media collages in autumnal hues show the pair gathering river samples and putting their large, lemon-shaped faces close to the water's edge. Endle's work is highly detailed and carefully patterned when depicting the fish and water life, but bland and static when she includes the humans. Endnotes discuss the life cycle of trout (the story seems to take a mini-detour for a three-spread overview of the topic). Tips for young environmentalists are also included.

Science News

Elementary school children will be intrigued by this lavishly illustrated and vibrant telling of the trout's life history. Most young readers won't be able to easily sound out or recognize all the words that make up this fish biography, so this is a book to read to them. How nutrients in leaves move up the food chain to nourish big fish is painlessly explained. As youngsters pore over colorful drawings that include bacteria, algae, caddis flies, and shrimp, their narrator offers sound effects to explain the depicted predation: "Swim and snap! Fins flick. Rush. Zap! They eat dragonflies." The book's title comes from its ecological message, which is simply stated: "Trout are made of trees. So are the bears and the people that eat them." Parents or teachers can learn more with the book's primer on the trout's life cycle and can gain green tips on how to become "a stream hero" by fostering the environmental stewardship of local waterways.

School Library Journal

A seemingly impossible premise, "Trout are made of trees," is at the heart of this explanation of the life cycle of a trout. A boy and girl, one white, one black, are exploring the stream and its inhabitants with their parents. In clear sentences, young readers follow autumn leaves as they fall from a tree into the water, are softened by algae and eaten by other creatures, which are then consumed by the trout. A more detailed explanation is included at the end of the book. Attractive collage illustrations in natural colors fill the spreads and help to explain the text. This unique introduction to how changes in nature create the food web illustrates how the whole world is interconnected.

The Horn Book

The food web relationships in a deciduous forest ecosystem are set in the approachable context of a fall camping trip. As two children and two adults camp along the banks of a stream, they encounter the plants, animals, and bacteria of the ecosystem's food web. Readers learn about each step of one chain within the web: the falling leaves that rot with the help of bacteria and algae, the insects that feast on the leaves, and the predators that eat insects, which are in turn eaten by the trout--that are then eaten by the campers. The focus is on the age-appropriate eating story; on each page a child-friendly sentence or two conveys a step in the chain, reveling in the "rip and snip," "crunch," and "munch" sounds of all that feasting. [Endle's] mixed-media collage illustrations are filled with the golds, browns, and greens of fall in the woods. Additional information about the trout life cycle, ways to help the environment, and internet resources are appended.


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ISBN: 978-1-58089-138-7

ISBN: 978-1-60734-014-0 PDF
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 4-8
Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 8 1/2

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