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Katherine Applegate's WISHTREE - Wisdom for All Ages

Updated: 4 days ago

by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)


Katherine Applegate's Wishtree (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) has been on my shelf for years—I love Applegate's work, and this book, whose protagonist is a tree, sounded charming. (It's also perfect for the "Book with an Unusual Point of View" category in this year's Reading Challenge!)


Two things prompted me to pick up the book this month: the first is the #clearyourshelfchallenge ("a book that takes place in spring"). The second, sadly, was an article about the book being banned in my home state. I don't want to dwell on the latter, but I did want to mention it since I think remaining aware of this book-banning trend is absolutely vital. (Applegate's response, which you can find in her Instagram highlights for Wishtree, is well worth reading.)


On to the book itself: it's absolutely lovely. The narrator and protagonist is Red, a red oak tree that has stood for over one hundred years and has come to be a vital part of the neighborhood surrounding them. Every May, community members write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches, so, while Red is silent, they still speak—powerfully—of the hopes of the people around them.

“Making others feel safe is a fine way to spend your days.”

Red stands at the edge of a home with new inhabitants, Samar and her family. Samar's only wish is to find a friend—a true friend. When an ugly message is carved in Red's trunk, Red becomes invested in ensuring that Samar's wish might come true.


Serving as a home for a bevy of animal friends, including Bongo the crow (my favorite), Red enlists their friends to make sure Samar is happy before the tree's own future changes irrevocably.


“There is beauty in stillness and grace in acceptance.”

This award winner is perfect for elementary-aged children, though even older kids will find much to love. Red's long-standing viewpoint allows the tree to share wisdom that transcends time and place, and the focus on how we can respond to bullying and prejudice is offered in a way that will resonate with readers of all ages.



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