Turbulent winds from an approaching tropical storm snatch an acorn from the safety of an oak tree and deposit it on the shore during the night. The acorn risks being washed away into the ocean or being eaten by a seagull before it’s rescued by Hatokwassi, a Kiawah Indian. She tucks the acorn safely away in her pouch, carries it back to her village, and lovingly plants it in her garden. Hatokwassi imagines it as a gift for her village, praying for the branches to shade the garden, the boughs to provide a playground for the children, and the seeds to offer food for the squirrels. A picture book for children, One Acorn’s Journey narrates the story of the Angel Oak, the oldest living oak tree in the United States located in Charleston, South Carolina.
Reviews for the Book
Pacific Book Review There is a well-know expression about children resembling their parents by the phrase: “The acorn falls close to the oak.” However, in One Acorn’s Journey: The Legend of the Angel Oak, author Rhonda S. Edwards brings readers on an adventure of the renewal of life with a personified acorn falling from the beak of a seagull, being picked up by a native Indian girl, planted in a special spot, and growing over the centuries into a magnificent oak tree – in real life being the largest specimen in North America. This book is captivating from the very start. It tells the journey of an acorn, close to being eaten by a bird yet surviving to be later found by Hatokwassi, a young Kiawah native girl when gathering food by the seashore. Hatokwassi places the acorn in a pouch made from raccoon hide which had the sweet aroma of peppermint; that is when and where the acorn found safety and warmth. Hatokwassi says this blessing when planting the acorn by her village’s garden: “Strong spirit of the acorn, I accept you as a gift for my village. Your bountiful branches will shade the garden from sun that is too hot, your strong boughs will provide safe arms for the playing of our children, and your plentiful seeds will provide food for the squirrels. May Kiawah, animal, and tree live in harmony. I pray for you to grow and become a mighty oak tree.” Over the centuries, the oak became a source of food for squirrels, shelter for birds, and shade to the dwellers beneath, as the culture and people of the Kiawah Indians changed to the early settlers of North America then onto the Americans inhabiting South Carolina. The only threat to the existence of this magnificent tree came from humans wanting to cut it down to make room for housing, yet the author tells the factual history of the tree and its surroundings being saved by a land trust. The wonderful illustrations by artist Wendy S. Tyree, which we learn is the sister to the author, brings this storybook to life with the elements of a near-death adventure of the acorn, to the survival and rescue by the Indian girl, to the feelings of sprouting in its new planting area, to becoming the most magnificent tree of its kind. These images are fanciful yet realistic, providing a visual sequence which will imbed itself in all readers’ minds; children and adults alike. When reading this, I was impressed with the vernacular of the author, using mature and impressive words and sentences. The narrative does not “talk down” to children, but rather elevates the readers’ vocabulary by having the meanings of expressions perceived within the storyline itself. Yet, to emphasize these words, Rhonda S. Edwards has a quite extensive glossary at the end of the book, along with suggestions on further educating children after reading this book. All in all, One Acorn’s Journey: The Legend of the Angel Oak, is a Best-In-Class book; one which will stand tall and strong like an oak tree in the crowded genre of illustrated children’s books. Filled with the inherent will to survive and thrive, this acorn was at the mercy of animals and elements beyond its control, to ultimately becoming a historical landmark of today’s civilization. This is a must-have book for all family libraries! The US Review of Books "Will harmony between nature and humankind allow the legend of Angel Oak to continue?" Angel Oak, the oldest oak tree in North American, started as an acorn hundreds of years ago. This is the story of that one acorn's journey to full growth. According to the legend, this journey was helped by a prayer from a native elder, Hatokwassi. Hatokwassi was a wise Kiawah woman who inhabited the land that is now Johns Island, South Carolina. When she found the acorn, she imagined it could be a tree that would offer shade for Kiawah children, a tree that would provide more acorns. From these acorns, the Kiawah people extracted precious oil. Hatokwassi imagined a tree that could give shelter and sustenance for birds and squirrels. The book's illustrations capture the spirit, generosity, and steadfastness of Hatokwassi and the natural world. It's an inspiring book for any child or children's library. The story also shows the profound ways Hatokawassi's prayer was answered. The reader will experience a sense of awe, observing the way one oak tree can survive all tests of time. The narrative mentions facts about the tree's dimensions and endurance. This one tree has witnessed Kiawah children grow and pass away as well as numerous changes that have taken place over the years. This story offers the reader an invitation to visit this fine tree and remember Hatokwassi's prayer. The author's book includes a useful teacher's guide to help with classroom lesson plans. It also offers resources for in-depth projects to inspire reflective writing and further environmental study. These tools will help kids who want to work in ecology, preservation, and activism that supports reforestation. Readers will likely appreciate this book's urgent message and deep reverence for this iconic tree.
About the Author: Rhonda S. Edwards
Raised in southeastern North Carolina, Rhonda has lived in South Carolina since 1980. A veteran teacher of 27 years, she currently teaches 4th grade GT at Eagle Nest Elementary. When not teaching, Rhonda spends time with her family and animals in Cottageville, SC. She and her husband of 42 years enjoy the peaceful existence they enjoy on their 40 acres.