Trees notice things. Trees like having neighbors. Trees have friends. They chat. Trees have seen so much especially when they are 216 rings old and living that long gives them stories to tell and a wisdom of what is right and wrong in our world.
You need to meet Red. He's a Red Oak and he lives in this neck of the woods and has for over two centuries. He's seen generations of families live out their lives and he holds the memories as stories that he keeps somewhere in the 1% of him that is alive at any time...or maybe he keeps them in the woody parts where they are safe.
Red has a lot of friends. He has Bongo the Crow, a pessimist, who loves to collect things and always comes back to see Red as the sun goes down. The two keep an eye on the neighborhood and they talk things over because yes, Red and Bongo can talk. It's a huge secret. Bongo doesn't mind if people know he can talk but Red knows that's one secret he just can't share even though sometimes he might want to.
Recently there has been a baby boom in Red. A whole slew of critters from opossums to skunks to raccoons to owls have given birth to their families in Red. He is the cradle that shelters and nurtures each one.
Every night the door in the tiny blue house across the street opens and out comes Samar. She and her family moved into their new house in January. She's about ten years old and she comes in her pajamas and her bathrobe and sits with Red and Bongo. Bongo brings her little gifts. Let's just say he likes her. Samar likes to stare at the green house next door to hers where the boy lives.
Now, Red would want you to know that every year comes the Wishing Day. The people in the neighborhood write their wishes on scraps of material or paper and they come and tie them to the twigs and branches that are Red. It's a tradition that's gone on for years.
This year, just before Wishing Day, a boy comes and leaves a different kind of wish that he carves into Red's bark. With one act of anger and hatred Red's world has been changed.
This is a story about friendship, belonging, respect, acceptance and the power of speaking up for truth and what is right. It's written simply enough that any child, anywhere will understand what is happening and will be able to see the power of our roots and our documents that say, "All men are created equal." They'll walk in the shoes of Bongo and Red. They'll get to consider what they would choose to do. They will see the power of many gathering together to reclaim the space where anger and hatred try to insert themselves.
Sadly, this is a book much needed in our times when we are inundated with fear-mongering and stupidity in our media outlets.
Luckily there is strength and wisdom in Red. Trees are great that way. But most of all trees care. Thank goodness so does Katherine Applegate and she took her very best powers and turned them toward bringing light and understanding and wisdom to our youngest hearts and minds. A gift of courage and caring.
978-1250043221 Ages 8-12 214 pages
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
"Trees can't tell jokes, but they can 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. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this "wishtree" watches over the neighborhood.
You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.
Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, Wishtree is Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Katherine Applegate at her very best―writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view."--from the publisher