- Publisher: Alfred a Knopf (June 1971)
- ISBN-10: 9997555627
- ISBN-13: 978-9997555625
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,024,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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My Sweet Orange Tree Hardcover – June, 1971
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Zeze, a precocious five-year-old born to a very poor family in the slums of Brazil, taught himself to read at that tender age and wants to grow up to be `a poet with a bow tie'. His intelligence is only matched by his penchant for mischief, and Zeze's ingenious pranks, which includes making `snakes' out of stockings to frighten adults with, will make you chuckle out loud. Beneath his naughtiness, however, is a child with a heart of gold. Zeze cares for plants and animals and the suffering of other people. He helps out his family by shining shoes, is saddened by the death of the family hen that was slaughtered for soup, shares the stuffed cruller that his pitying teacher bought him with a destitute little black girl who no one else plays with, steals flowers from rich folks' gardens for his teacher and sings in the street to help a songbook salesman sell his wares. Poverty has taught young Zeze a lot, and when he cries upon seeing that he has received nothing for Christmas and has thus hurt his father's feelings, he shines shoes for a few pennies to buy his father a box of cigarettes with. The title of the book comes from a small, sweet-orange tree growing in the garden of Zeze's home. Feeling left out by his numerous brothers and sisters, the imaginative Zeze adopts the tree as a playmate. The plot grows when Zeze befriends the town millionaire, Portuga, and soon the two are inseparable. A tragedy occurs, and we follow the sorrowful and moving way Zeze deals with it. For the record, no book has ever made me cry so much.
That this book is no longer in print is also a great tragedy. I strongly recommend searching secondhand bookshops and flea markets to see if anyone is foolish enough to give this gem away. His/her loss is your gain.
Are you there riding on Minguinho...still? I am here..under Queen Charlotte..listening to the wind..
Thanks for everything
This ia an autobiographical story about he author's own childhood. Zeze is a heartbreakingly precocious and adorable little boy. But his poor family can't bestow enough attention to him for them to understand that his pranks and misgivings are results of innocent childhood imaginations. Zeze becomes the easy target of his family's frustration. His family, father, mother, two big sister, one big brother, and one little brother, they are not bad people but they fall to that trap of unleashing their own misery to someone who is even more defenseless than themselves.
Nobody could give Zeze the love and understanding he so craves. Zeze turns to his own imagination and create wonderful world of his own in his mind and in the process, discovers that the young sweet orange tree in his backyard can talk to him! They become the best friend. Later, Zeze finds another friend in the kind, old Portuguese man. But the pain of living soon invades even this precious world of Zeze and he has to learn to give up innocence and to grow up...
This book shows how desolate a child in poverty can be but also at the same time shows how beautifully enriching love and friendship can be to a lonely heart.
Bring this book back to America!