Tap the Magic Tree

Common Sense Media says

Simple, interactive story about the changing seasons.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can talk and learn about the seasons and cycles as the apple tree at the center of this simple story transforms through spring to summer to fall to winter and back to spring again. The rhyming text may encourage kids to make up rhymes of their own.

Positive messages

Kids are encouraged to interact with Tap the Magic Tree, tapping branches, patting leaves, and clapping to bring on the next amazing change. 

Positive role models
Not applicable
Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Tap the Magic Tree is an engaging picture book that features an apple tree transforming through spring, summer, fall, winter, and back to spring again. Kids are encouraged to interact with the tree, tapping branches, patting leaves, and clapping to trigger the next amazing change. Parents can use this book to talk about the seasons. The rhyming text may encourage kids to make up rhymes of their own.

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What's the story?

Through simple rhymes, kids are encouraged to tap a tree's bare branches to help it sprout buds. Then they rub the tree to warm it up, helping it form blossoms. Eventually, the little tree grows fruit, then loses its leaves, only to become a nest for birds and ultimately begin the cycle again.

Is it any good?


TAP THE TREE is a great read-aloud book, as kids will enjoy interacting with the pages, from tapping the tree to knocking on the trunk. Author-illustrator Christie Matheson expertly builds the excitement to a peak when the apples fall ("Plop!, plop!, plop! plop! plop! plop! Kerplop!") then slows the book down again as summer ends and the fall and winter months begin.

Matheson uses both watercolor and collage to showcase her tree throughout the seasons, creating little pink blossoms, red apples, rich fall-colored leaves, and tiny blue birds. The tree's simplicity is well balanced with the spare text. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the seasons and what they like about each one. What's the difference between summer and winter? Or spring and fall? How are the trees different? What else is different?

  • What's your favorite season?

  • Examine how the author made her tree collage. Parents can help kids make tree collages of their own. What season will you choose for your tree?

Book details

Author:Christie Matheson
Illustrator:Christie Matheson
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Science and nature
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Greenwillow Books
Publication date:November 27, 2013
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 8
Read aloud:3 - 6
Read alone:6 - 8
Available on:Hardback

This review of Tap the Magic Tree was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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