Barbara Bash (Illustrator)
Sierra Club Books for Children
Paired with colorful illustrations, "Tree of Life" weaves together fact and folktale. Bash tells a creation story from the !Kung people of Namibia in which the lazy hyena is last to pick the type of tree to be his spirit tree. He ignorantly plants his baobab seed and the tree grows upside-down - a mythological explanation for why the tree looks like it grows roots-up.
The book also is a natural history and zoology lesson, with lifelike watercolors of the desert's animals and the tree's life cycle.