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THE BIRTHDAY TREE by Paul Fleischman

THE BIRTHDAY TREE

By Paul Fleischman (Author) , Barry Root (Illustrator)

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: March 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7636-2604-4
Publisher: Candlewick

A new illustrator gives both color and more variety in the visuals to Fleischman’s 1979 tale of a child who leaves but then comes back. The text is nearly unchanged. Having lost three children to the sea, a sailor and his wife pull up stakes and head inland. Settling far enough away, or so they think, they raise another son, who develops an unusual affinity with an apple tree that was planted at his birth—and, one day, disappears seaward himself. The couple is able to track the son’s changing fortunes by the condition of the tree. They give up hope when it turns dry, brown and leafless, but just as they’re packing up to go even further inland it revives, and they return to the house to find their son asleep in his bed. Marcia Sewell illustrated the original in monochrome swirls; like her, Root places windswept figures at some distance from the foreground and, generally, facing away from viewers. But his muted colors add lyrical touches, and he creates wider backdrops to evoke the couple’s lonely isolation. This is addressed more to parents than children, but the tree’s role adds a touch of magic that may appeal to younger listeners. (Picture book. 7-9, adult)