I'm still in a bit of disbelief that I not only have one ARC, but two of this newest work of fiction by the one and only Katherine Applegate. After hearing the most positive reviews, I entered a contest by Macmillan and actually won a copy of the book. While at ALA in Chicago I had the honor of meeting Katherine and having her sign an ARC for my fourth grade classroom. I have sent one of the copies on its journey with #bookexpedition.
What It Is About: Trees, animals, wishes, acceptance, and racism. All of these are covered in Katherine Applegate's newest novel which will be released in September. An old red tree has sat in the same spot for over a hundred years. This tree has seen it all. The tree is a protector to a menagerie of animals that not only take refuge in the hallows, but share their deepest thoughts and feelings. The tree has watched over the residents of two homes that sit directly in front of him/her. When the two newest families come from different backgrounds and cultures, tension arises not only with the human population, but the animal community that surrounds the tree. When a "word" is carved into the trunk of the tree, the level of concern rises for all those involved. There are two children in the two homes that border the tree. The tree makes it their mission to grant the wish of one of these children. When the possibility of its end of life, the old tree decides to do everything in its power to not only "save" these two residents, but also all the residents residing in its trunk and branches.
What I Thought Of It: I have been on a streak of reading some of the most incredible middle-grade novels that I have read in a long time. This is definitely included in that group. I was a bit worried with all the "hype" and the story wouldn't measure up. As soon as I began to read, I knew I didn't need to worry one bit. This was so beautifully written. Each and every page contained some the most thought-provoking and heartfelt lines. The story could be read on so many different levels. Each reader will take from it what it can based on their age and/or experiences. The relationship between the tree and crow just made me smile and as I'm thinking of them now, I have a smile on my face. The plot is an important and crucial one that should be shared with all young people. I can't wait to use the novel with my group of students in the fall.
Who Should Read It: EVERYONE! I know that I will use it as a read aloud in my fourth grade classroom in September. I'm also thinking of suggesting we use the book as an "all-school" read aloud and create our own wish trees. It just warms my heart to think of this possibility this story could present to our young people. It is a complete WOW book. If you can't get an ARC this summer, be sure to look for it in September. Happy Reading!
Rating: 5+ STARS out of 5 Stars