- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 6
- Lexile Measure: 590 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Feiwel & Friends; First Edition edition (September 26, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250043220
- ISBN-13: 978-1250043221
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 248 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wishtree Hardcover – September 26, 2017
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Audio CD, Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Newbery Award—winning author 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 keeps the emphasis on her characters, the many animals and birds who find shelter in the tree's branches all year round. (All 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 community. 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 recent Muslim refugee, is lonely and in need of a friend. A nameless boy uses the tree to convey hateful messages to Samar and her family. The owner of the tree is tired of roots in the plumbing and hopes all the nastiness will disappear if the tree is cut down, having forgotten the story of her ancestors and the beginning of all the wishes. Red decides 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 family 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 author 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 family.
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Despite its unconventional narration, I found that my daughters remained riveted as we listened to Wishtree. I believe what makes this book shine is its accessibility. It has short chapters and the writing is straightforward. All levels of middle grade readers will be able to handle the writing and the themes, which focus on diversity, inclusion, kindness, and love. Exactly the themes our kids should be thinking and talking more about these days.
There is one word in Wishtree, one very simple word, that brought both my husband and I to tears. I won’t tell you what it is. You’ll know it when you get there.
Oh, my heart. This book is beautiful. I knew the instant I started reading it that I had to teach it. It's so powerful.
Red, a local oak tree, is the narrator of this tale. He is a Wishtree where people tie wishes, and his new neighbor, Samar, ha made a wish for a friend. She's new to town and Muslim and people are not treating her family well.
Through flashbacks that artfully parallel the era to the Irish and Italian immigration, more than a century before, we hear a tale of acceptance, bravery and loyalty told through the eyes of the community's longest and most loving resident....the tree.
A new Muslim family moves into the neighborhood and faces the ugliest side of human nature. The power of friendship, bravery, and history are woven together in this tale, part magic, part science, and all love. In Applegate's own words, there is a special kind of power in being able to stand tall and reach deep in all circumstances. Leave it to children's literature to teach us (adults and children alike) to be the very people we can be.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
"Hollows offer protection from the elements. A secure spot to sleep and to stash your belongings. They're a safe place. Hollows are proof that something bad can become something good with enough time and care and hope" p. 5
"... Sometimes things happen that aren't so good. When they occur, I've learned that there's not much you can do except stand tall and reach deep." P. 35
"Real life, like a good garden, is messy." p. 209
This book is going to be very popular. It was published in September of this year and has already topped some major book lists. It's beautiful. Not just pretty to look at, which it is, but so sweet. I hugged the book when I finished, which isn't something I never do, but it's reserved for a special category of book.