Wishtree by Katherine Applegate – Book Review
Author – Applegate
Illustrator – Santoso
Publisher – Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC
ISBN – 3 2222 08940 4232
Pages – 225
Released – September 26, 2017
Format – hardback, Kindle, paperback, library binding, audible audiobook
I borrowed a copy of this book from the free library.
Katherine Applegate’s children’s novel, Wishtree, is a heartwarming story, told in the first person point-of-view of the character named Red. Red is a two hundred-sixteen-year-old northern red oak that has lived in a typical American neighborhood all of its life. During this time, the wish tree has witnessed many newcomers’ plights as they struggled for acceptance among the established residents.
Early on in her lifetime, Red became a wish tree. A wish tree or raggy tree is an old Irish custom where, on the first of May, people write their wishes onto strips of fabric and tie them to the limbs of a tree. The tradition in Red’s neighborhood started when, Maeve, a lonely Irish girl, hung her wish from one of Red’s branches. As time wore on, the tradition spread until every year people from various ethnicities adorned Red with their wishes.
One day Red’s world forever changes when someone carves the hateful word “leave” into its trunk. The mean-spirited graffiti is a message directed at a new Muslim family who moved into the neighborhood. Samar, the daughter in this family, is a quiet, lonesome girl, who like so many others, sits beneath Red’s canopy and befriends the old tree. One night, Samar, hangs a piece of fabric on one of Red’s branches. The fabric contains Samar’s dearest wish—she longs for a friend.
When Red’s owner, Francesca, sees the ugly blemish carved into Red’s trunk she decides its time to finally have Red cut down. Francesca has wanted to have Red cut down for years. She is tired of enduring Red’s bothersome roots, raggy wishes, and fallen leaves and acorns.
Aware that its life may soon be ending, Red doesn’t squander the time it has left. In a selfless gesture, Red enlists the help of it’s best friend, a crow named Bongo, to ensure that Samar’s wish comes true. Will Red and Bongo be able to grant Samar’s wish? Will Red survive the threat of being cut down? If you wish to have your questions answered, you’ll find them all in the lively pages of this delightful and tenderhearted book.
Once again Newberry Medal winner, Katherine Applegate, delivers a poignant story that raises social and ethical awareness for animals, people, and the environment. Illustrator, Charles Santoso’s, cover illustration and black and white sketches, capture Applegate’s eloquent literary style and add an extra sweetness that compliments the story perfectly. Like the characters of Red and Bongo that they’ve brought to life, the two artists are a wonderful pair.
From the very first line, Applegate draws you into the life of Red and it’s many community members. Weaving a tapestry of humor and heartache, Applegate captures the flaws and strengths of the human spirit, as well as, the blessings that true friendship can bestow.
I can’t wait to read Wishtree again. I highly recommend it!