The First Forest by John Gile

The First Forest (1989)
Written by John Gile
Illustrated by Tom Heflin

As the tree-hugging naturalist that I am, I picked up this story simply because it was about a forest without knowing what to expect, and I am incredibly pleased that I came across it because it was great. The First Forest is a wonderful myth-style story that explains why some trees lose their leaves while others don’t. This simple, yet imaginative story talks about the Tree Maker made all of the first trees ever and gave them everything everything they needed. All was well in the first ever forest with all of the different types of trees coexisting together in peace. Then one day some trees suddenly became greedy, stretching out their limbs to get more sun than the others, pushing and blocking each other until the forest was no longer peaceful and beautiful. As you can guess the Tree Maker set everything right and punished the trees which participated in the greed.

This story is well written, and is perfectly enjoyable. It is fun and imaginative in the way that you would expect a masterpiece children’s book to be. And like many books that I would consider to be masterpieces, this book will be loved by a wide age range from the very young to the very old. I also found it nice that the Tree Maker is not spoken of as any sort of god from any particular religion, and that helps give the classic myth feel to the story without making it unappealing to any particular group of people.

The illustrations in this book are simple little works of art. The trees are all unique and interesting and the whole thing is creative and fun. I especially enjoyed the way that Tom Heflin illustrated the Tree Maker in this story. to me he looks like an old lovable hippy with his long, white hair and beard and his funny hat. No artwork could be better suited to this story than these illustrations are, and as it should be in picture books, they add a lot to an already great story.

This simple and fun story is definitely worth reading to children, and I consider it a must have in any collection. I is a joy to read aloud and makes a perfect bedtime story for curious children. The book excites the imagination with its story and even invites the reader to use their imagination during the story as well. Like I said, all ages will enjoy this story and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Content- A
Illustrations- A
Readability- A

6 thoughts on “The First Forest by John Gile

  1. I also loved the book and used it in my classroom to teach lessons. It’s wonderfully written and illustrated and the message is clearly understood by the children.

  2. I think it is one of the best children’s books around. I know many teachers have used it in their classrooms as part of the curriculum for various age groups. I am definitely a fan!

  3. Gile is a gifted author with a passion for his important message that readers of all ages can understand and appreciate. His book ‘Oh How I Wish I Could Read’ should also be on every child’s must read list.

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