Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Summary from Netgalley.
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.
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review.
This is an amazing and beautiful book. It is a deceptively simple book that looks like it is for a younger audience. I think younger kids will love the book, but I think older kids will love it as well, especially because it deals with something much more complex than it initially appears to.
I don’t think I’ve read a book where a tree was a main character and that had such personality. I loved Red’s relationships with all of the animals that lived in and around her. I also liked the animal’s names, and Red’s explanations as to why they were called that. It seemed very animal like. Red’s need to protect them was wonderful, even though there was often very little she could do for them. Red was a very nurturing character, and her need to help every one came out of the tradition and nature of being the Wishtree.
Stephen and Samar were great characters. Very typical kids with desires to belong and to have friends. I loved the different ways that Red came up with to get the two of them together, I also liked that it was evident that their parents would not become instant friends just because their kids were. It would take time and perhaps still not happen.
The illustrations in the book were beautiful and helped to tell the story as well. Sometime illustrations can detract from a story but not in this case. They really helped to build Red’s character as well as the animals and humans who populated the story. They made them seem more real.
There is some magical realism in the story, but it is done well and with an almost a dreamlike quality that made it much more special and important. The ending was magical as well, but in a way that almost made it seem possible. A beautiful story that on the surface appears simple but is really quite complex.