Feiwel and Friends, 2017
What a beautiful, precious, lovely book!! This is the kind of book I want everyone to read and take to heart and live by.
Lily received Wishtree from her Aunt Tricia this year for Christmas. I think Aunt Tricia is the one person in the world, I know personally, who has potentially read more books than I have. She’s as obsessed with books as we are in this house, probably more. And she teaches reading to middle schoolers. Basically, books are her life, and over the years she has introduced me to some of the most beautiful authors ever like, Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell, and John Green. Not once has she recommended a book to me that I didn’t like.
So, I knew when Wishtree arrived, even though it was a gift for Lily, I would read it at some point. I should have gobbled it up immediately, because, HELLO! Katherine Applegate of The One and Only Ivan, and Crenshaw.
The book jacket makes this book sound so simple…
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 a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood.
And yet this story is anything but simple. As a new family moves into the neighborhood, Red witnesses how unwelcome some people are to the newcomers, and sets out to help them, especially the girl named Samar.
For some reason, I’m a bit obsessed with trees lately. I want an expert to walk with me through my Maine neighborhoods during the seasons and teach me how to identify them all. How to name each tree by the bark or the leaf or the way the trunk branches out. We have the most amazing, crazy, huge, oddly shaped trees in our neighborhood, maybe in every neighborhood I’ve ever been in, but for some reason right now in my life, it’s like they speak to me. I want to know them.
And Wishtree is narrated by a tree. Unique and perfect! Neither Lily nor I have ever read a book narrated by a tree, and Red’s voice swirled around us and drew us right into such a lovely story.
…if you find yourself standing near a particularly friendly-looking tree on a particularly lucky-feeling day, it can’t hurt to listen up.
Trees can’t tell jokes.
But we can certainly tell stories.
And if all you hear is the whisper of leaves, don’t worry. Most trees are introverts at heart.
I felt Red’s special voice. I paid attention. I wanted to take in all her/his (Red is both a he and a she) wisdom. And this book overflows with wisdom.
Lily first read Wishtree to herself, while curled up on the couch next to me. I listened to her giggles, her intakes of breath at crucial moments, and every few pages or so, she interrupted what I was doing to share part of the book with me.
“The skunk’s name in this book is FreshBakedBread,” she said to me at one point.
“How cute,” I replied.
“Yeah, ‘All skunks name themselves after pleasant scents,’” Lily read to me, with a gigantic smile on her face.
I won’t give any more of the names away, but let me just say how clever and wonderful every single word is in these pages. Katherine Applegate thinks of everything, every nuance, every name, every action and inaction, every emotion. I think it’s true genius when an author can use few words to say so much. Applegate takes the reader on a magical journey, paints the most stunning work of art, makes us cry and laugh, and turn the last page knowing that we have been forever changed.
If you adore trees and animals and all kinds of nature, including human nature, if you believe there’s more good in the world than evil, or if you need to believe that, open the pages of Wishtree immediately. I hope this gem finds a place in your heart, like it did ours. And may all your wishes come true!