From School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Newbery Award—winning writer Applegate meets high expectations in this tale told by a tree named Red, a red oak who is “two hundred and sixteen rings old.” Touching on religious bigotry and the environment, Applegate helps to keep the emphasis on her characters, the many animals and birds who find shelter in the tree’s branches all year round. (All of the birds and animals have names and the power to talk, just like Red.) Around the first of May, people write down their wishes on pieces of cloth and hang them from the tree’s branches, giving Red a special place in the neighborhood. The pacing starts out slowly, with early chapters focused almost entirely on the natural world, but eventually readers meet the human at the novel’s center. Samar, a up to date Muslim refugee, is lonely and in need of a friend. A nameless boy uses the tree to convey hateful messages to Samar and her circle of relatives. The owner of the tree is tired of roots in the plumbing and hopes All of the nastiness will disappear if the tree is cut down, having forgotten the story of her ancestors and the beginning of All of the wishes. Red comes to a decision to intervene and ask for help from the animals and birds. Even those who shy away from books with talking animals will find this believable fantasy elegant and poignant. Widening the appeal is a sparse word count, making this a great choice for a circle of relatives or classroom read-aloud and an inviting option for reluctant readers. VERDICT Another stunning effort from Applegate. This thoughtful read is a top choice for middle graders.—Carol A. Edwards, formerly at Denver Public Library
About the Author
Katherine Applegate is the writer of The One and Only Ivan, winner of the Newbery Medal. Her novel Crenshaw, spent over twenty weeks on the New York Times children’s bestseller list, and her first middle-grade stand-alone novel, Home of the Brave continues to be included on state reading lists, summer reading lists, and class reading lists. Katherine Applegate lives in Tiburon, California, with her circle of relatives.
“Warm and thoughtful, this story is told from the perspective of an ancient oak tree who has seen it all. Bestselling writer Katherine Applegate gets readers rooting for the old tree, Together with the people and animals who come to depend on it. The shorter length and strong plot are appealing for middle grade readers who are growing into novels with less illustrated narrative and more complex subject matter.” – Seira Wilson, Amazon EditorAn Amazon Top 20 Children’s Books of 2017The New York Times-bestselling story of kindness, friendship, and hope. Trees can’t tell jokes, but they may be able to certainly tell stories. . . .Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”―people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Together with a crow named Bongo and other animals who are trying to find refuge in Red’s hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood.You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new circle of relatives moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experience as a wishtree is more important than ever.Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, this is Katherine Applegate at her very best―writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view.This book has Common Core connections.