The tree in the courtyard was a horse chestnut. Her leaves were green stars; her flowers foaming cones of white and pink. Seagulls flocked to her shade. She spread roots and reached skyward in peace.
The tree watched a little girl, who played and laughed and wrote in a diary. When strangers invaded the city and warplanes roared overhead, the tree watched the girl peek out of the curtained window of the annex. It watched as she and her family were taken away—and when her father returned after the war, alone. The tree died the summer Anne Frank would have turned eighty-one, but its seeds and saplings have been planted around the world as a symbol of peace. Its story, and Anne’s story, are beautifully told and illustrated in this powerful picture book.
Nugget- When strangers invade a city and warplanes roar overhead, a tree watched a girl peek, disappear, then never return.
Need Enticement- The author uses the enticement as a sort of prologue to set the stage- describing the tree, leavesas green stars, flowers foaming cones of white and pink. He describes the first part of the tree's life and the beautiful city.
Escalation: BAM! You turn the page and war starts. We are introduced to a young girl that like to write. We move from the Nazi invasion, to the young girl and her family moving, hiding, yet still watching the tree, until they disappear. The father returns alone, a woman from the factory gathered all the writings from the girl and gives them to the father.
Satisfying Ending- Much like the beginning the author uses this as an epilogue, with languid words that pull the reader in and feel the sorrow. I have read this story over 8x now and still cry.
Just before the last page, is my satisfying ending, it rips me, touches my heart so deeply:
The summer the girl would have turned eighty-one, a storm snapped the tree's trunk in two.
Just like the girl, she passed into history.
Just like the girl, she lives on.
------ the author then ends the story with how the tree lives on. It is beautiful.
Sources: Although he does use quotes from Anne Frank's diary and gives a fabulous timeline there is not a bibliography nor an acknowledgment of who vetted the facts. Because of the perspective, this story is fiction, but I still like my sources.
Show/Sustainable Words: After reading this book every child should be able to illustrate a horsehair chestnut, the words were so descriptive. Also in the book the words: annex, factory, ragged, unruly, vigil, and seedpod will raise great discussions. Another great lesson will be to discover where seedpods were sent and where small trees from this tree now grow and why those place were chosen, what their historical significance were. This book gives a great vocabulary list, geography lesson, as well as history touching on WWII, Jewish Persecution, Segregation Laws, NATO, and more.
Why: We have many Anne Frank books, this one took a different approach. Although fictionalized, it pulled the reader in and created a world where a child understood and encourages continuing research. Without shoving too many facts down our throat, the author delivered a story that captivates adults and will pull a child in.
Need & Want: This was so interesting. The want came from the readers, we were pulled along wanting to know what will happen to the tree, we know what happens to the little girl. BUT, the need belonged to the tree. The tree's need to thrive, to find love, peace-- even in a war torn world.