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This is a very cute and pure novel that delivers deep, intense themes. There are many layers to this novel, and the layers build as the story goes on. Red’s outsider perspective points out bad behavior in humans, and still guides the reader through a lighthearted story of friendship and love.
I've shared this book with so many people. This is the first book I've ever read told from the perspective of a tree and what they see. It makes you wonder at the true life of nature and how we really are all connected.
Narrated by a wise old oak tree (Red) this terrific story for grades 3-5 was the first book in the Koelbel Junior Chapter Book book group. We agreed it was gentle, complex, realistic fiction with several profound themes. This book would be especially appropriate for sensitive children. Themes included: friendship, immigration, prejudice, self acceptance. Another theme that runs throughout is the capacity for both competition and cooperation that exists in all of nature, including humans. "Wishtree" will introduce young readers to new vocabulary and interesting facts about animals and plants, all done with subtlety and humor.
From TKB Teen Vivian: I loved the writing in this book. It's just this very calming writing and I love the way it's narrated. I enjoyed just about every part of this book.
Don't know what all the hype was about -- worst book I have ever read .
Context: I read this book out loud to my 3 and 5 year old children. This was required by the 5 year old's school who were participating in an activity where every child (kindergarten to grade 12) in the school district had to read the same book. I am not the target audience and, frankly, neither are my children. They enjoyed it well enough, but they just like being read to. I could read them the phone book and they'd be happy. Most of the 'clever bits' completely flew over their head. I suspect that kids in the 8-12ish age range would be a better fit. If I was a 10 year old, I bet I would have given this book 4 stars.
So, yeah, not my cup of tea. That's not to say that it doesn't have good parts. I quite enjoyed the stories about the people surrounding the wishtree - particularly the one about Maeve and Ama. I liked Stephen and Samar and the fact that it wasn't easy to get them to interact enough to get to know each other. I also appreciate the author taking on the task of writing a book about racism that appears innocuous enough to reach the kids who really need to read a book about racism.
But a lot of it is trying too hard. To be relevant. To be quirky. To be educational.
"Hush," their mother, FreshBakedBread scolded. "It's the middle of the day. You're supposed to be asleep. You're crepuscular." Crepuscular creatures, like fireflies, bats and deer, are especially active at dusk and dawn.
If that sounds like the sort of thing you want to read, you'll enjoy this book. Personally, it pulls me out of the story and makes me wonder why the author thought that paragraph was a good idea. And it wasn't the only incidence of "look! biological vocabulary break!"
(FreshBakedBread is the name of a skunk. The author came up with a different naming convention for every species. Which sort of helped you remember which was which, but mostly felt like "look at me being quirky!" Except for the Raccoons who name all their kids You. That one I liked.)
2 stars doesn't mean it's a bad book. It's a perfectly good book. The stars represent personal enjoyment of the book. And my favourite part of reading it was snuggling with my kids. Which I'll do again tomorrow with another book.
I always read books before I give them to my grandchildren. Wishtree is a gentle, poignant and lyrical book. I originally thought some of the harsher themes ("LEAVE") might be too much to understand for the lower end of the age recommendation (8-10) but the beautiful way it was resolved and the fact it is so magically imagination inspiring that I changed my mind.
5 stars and an A+ for Wishtree, a lovely little book.
Katherine Applegate might be my favorite children's author after reading this one! Like The One and Only Ivan, the language in this book is simple yet profound. Red is a perfect protagonist and teaches readers so many valuable lessons about patience, compassion, and selflessness. Also, I loved the character dynamics we experience in the interactions between Red and their 'residents". Short, poignant, and endearing, this book is bound to be a favorite for middle grade book clubs and novel units!
Just finished this too-short book and wished it could have gone on. If you love trees and animals, you will adore this book!! The story of inclusion within it is very nice but not what I loved most. I fell mostly for the beauty of the language and the tenderness in the book. I'm 65 and I don't think this is a children's book. It's a book that people of all ages should read! I simply cannot recommend this book enough!!
This is a charming little book that promotes inclusivity in a nice way. I particularly enjoyed the tree narrator's voice and the details about how animals name themselves. Highly recommended!
Another exceptionally wise yet simple children’s novel from the Newbery Award-winning author of *The One and Only Ivan*. Applegate tells the story of an American community through the point of view of a 200-year-old red oak tree, Red. While that might seem like an odd idea, Applegate brings it off in a gentle way. Red knows the stories of the early Irish families, then the Italian families who moved into the neighborhood and who were yelled at by the Irish. Of course the Irish and the Italians eventually intermarried and just became “Americans.” One of those long-ago neighbors started a custom of hanging written wishes on the tree every May 1st. The tree had no power to grant wishes, of course, but the custom helped to bring the neighborhood together every year.
Now a new family has moved in, a Muslim family with a grade-school daughter named Samar. Like the generations of people before her, she has a wish: “for a friend.” Some people only drive by her house with hate and some boy has actually carved the word “Leave” into the tree’s bark; but the tree and the animals in the tree appreciate Samar and want to help her. The words of the story are simple but the story is deep. If you really believe that “Love your neighbor” is an important task in life, please read this book to your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
A beautifully written book about inclusivity. The dedication says it all: "For newcomers and for welcomers."
This is a thoughtful story of acceptance and immigration with a gripping plot. The narrator is a large, old oak, perfect for telling stories. It is a story that makes you imagine. Can a tree actually speak? Where does the reality we know end, and a different world begin?
I actually had to read this book going into 8th grade. I thought it was a phenomenal story! But I thought that the reading level was for children in elementary school not middle school.
This beautifully written book is about friendship, acceptance and community. It would make a wonderful read-aloud and evoke great discussions.
What a wonderful book! The stories that an old oak tree could tell. Something so simple and rooted to a community has many observations. A must read for children of all ages!
Katherine Applegate has crafted a lovely story with humorous and poignant moments. Told by Red, a witty, philosophizing, but above all, caring oak tree, this moving tale encourages kindness and being welcoming towards strangers. At times, I chuckled. At times, I had a lump in my throat.
This little book is the total package. A story that is worthwhile for adults and children alike. Love, love, love the illustrations, too. A perfect read aloud for elementary classrooms. Highly recommended.
A simple and graceful narration with an excellent balance of wisdom, humor, tension, and poignancy that wasn't quite as emotionally evocative for me as I might have hoped. Should have wide appeal in a variety of settings.
A 218 year old tree is the narrator of this story about friendship, community, tolerance and magic. Samar and her Muslim family feel unwelcome in their new neighborhood. The tree that once comforted her now has an ugly word carved into it: LEAVE. Find out if a wise old tree and its furry and feathered inhabitants can bring this community together. Recommended for grades 3 and up.