I have been hearing so much about Katherine Applegate’s Wishtree, so that when my copy finally arrived I set aside everything else I had planned to do and sat down to read it. Of course, having loved The One And Only Ivan, I knew that I would be in for another lyrical reading experience, one that would pull at my heartstrings and give me hope for humanity…which is exactly what it did.
Red is a northern red oak tree, two hundred some years old, who houses an entire community of assorted birds, creatures, and, every May Day, the wishes tied to her many boughs by people hoping for all manner of things. Although much of the world Red remembers from her earliest days has passed into history, she still casts shade over two homes that go back to her earliest days, in one of which lives a girl who has become close to Red’s heart.
Samar is about ten, with “the look of someone who has seen too much. Someone who wants the world to quiet itself.” She finds comfort under Red’s branches, especially late at night, and when she sits, all the creatures around make their way over to join her. Red, of course, takes note of this. One night, Samar wishes for a friend, and Red wants to make her wish come true.
But someone scrawls an ugly word intended for Samar’s family on Red’s trunk, and the neighborhood becomes a world divided between those who wish for newcomers to stay, and those who want them to leave. Francesca, who owns the land Red’s roots have dug deep into, and therefore owns Red as well, decides that it’s time to cut the tree down, who needs the bother of all the leaves, critters, acorns, and wishes that come with Red, after all? For that matter, do wishes ever come true?
Wishtree is a journey into believing in wishes, and in people, too. I loved every moment of reading it so much, that the moment I came to the end of its last page I just had to read it again.
Jason Reynolds’ Ghost was our final read aloud last year, and my ex-students still talk about how much they loved it and how they can’t wait to get their hands on its sequel, Patina . Well, they will be glad to know that the copy I ordered is finally here, and that it was worth the wait.
Patty is Ghost’s track team mate. She is just as fast as he is, naturally, but with her own compelling story. Patty has seen a lot of loss for someone in middle school: her father died suddenly when she was quite young, and then her mother lost her legs to diabetes, which meant that Patty and her sister Maddy had to live with their aunt who was better able to take care of them. Even though Patty sees her mother every weekend when they can all go to church together, she misses the family she life she once had, and her old school, too.
Patty knows two things for sure: that her family counts on her to be strong , and that she is fast as the wind on the track. But, Patty is also just a kid trying to negotiate being one of the only African American girls at her school, being a role model for her younger sister and a cause of nothing but pride for her mother, and being part of a track team filled with big personalities. That’s a lot for one kid.
I loved that Patty is a strong young lady, her sassiness hides a big heart and a vulnerability which makes her an interesting character to follow through the book. Reynolds writes with an understanding of a kid’s perspective on life, and with a genuine love of all the quirkiness that (especially) goes into middle school aged kids. These are my people, too, and I loved being immersed in their world through the eyes of Patty.