Anne Frank's Chestnut Tree

Anne Frank's Chestnut Tree

by Jane Kohuth, Elizabeth Sayles
     
 

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Hidden away in their Secret Annex in Amsterdam during World War II, Anne Frank and her family could not breathe fresh air or see the blue sky for years. But through an attic window Anne could see the branches of a tall chestnut tree. This small glimpse of nature gave Anne hope and courage. It inspired her writing, which, in turn, inspired the whole world. Jane Kohuth…  See more details below

Overview

Hidden away in their Secret Annex in Amsterdam during World War II, Anne Frank and her family could not breathe fresh air or see the blue sky for years. But through an attic window Anne could see the branches of a tall chestnut tree. This small glimpse of nature gave Anne hope and courage. It inspired her writing, which, in turn, inspired the whole world. Jane Kohuth explores Anne Frank's strong belief in the healing power of nature in this Step 3 leveled reader biography for newly independent readers ages 5–8.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
09/01/2013
Gr 2–4—This beginning reader introduces Anne Frank as she admires the chestnut tree that stands outside the window of the Secret Annex. The next statement instantly catches readers' attention: "she had not been outside for 597 days." Observing it helped her keep track of the passing seasons and calm her emotions. The changes wrought by the Holocaust are described in terms a child can understand: Anne cannot go swimming, is not allowed to go to movies, and must change schools. However, due to the book's controlled vocabulary, some concepts are oversimplified; for example, the term concentration camp is used but not defined, though "Anne's parents knew that when Jews were sent away, they were never heard from again." Readers are told that "Anne did not survive the war. But her diary did." They also learn that the chestnut tree no longer stands, but that seedlings from it have been planted all over the world. Like Anne, its legacy continues. The somber colors in Sayles's paintings contribute to the serious tone and historical feel of the story. Students in need of more more context can read Josephine Poole's Anne Frank (Knopf, 2005), which is at a higher reading level.—Jackie Partch, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Anne Frank is, arguably, the best known victim of the Holocaust. Traditionally, Anne’s diary is read by young teenagers. This easy-reading version makes Anne’s story accessible for readers as young as eight years of age, and will be an asset to schools in meeting Common Core standards. The story is told in its simplest form from the Nazi invasion of Holland in 1940 through Anne’s sequestration in the “Secret Annex” starting in 1942 to her family’s capture in 1944. Anne’s death is gently treated; it is explained that “she did not survive the war.” The chestnut tree mentioned in the title is both factual and a metaphor for Anne’s belief in nature as a continuation of goodness in the world. Author Jane Kohuth cuts to the most central events of the story, including Anne’s schooling and the family’s “helpers” who endangered through own lives to provide protection. Sayles’ illustrations are in a soft focus manner similar to that of aged photographs. Unfortunately, there are two problems with the book. The first picture in the book is dated February 23, 1944, when Anne would have been fourteen years old; the child in the picture appears to be about ten. Also, although it was a chestnut tree that served as Anne’s reminder of the world outside her prison walls, was later destroyed by disease and storm, and gave shoots that were nurtured into new trees distributed around the world, the image on the last page of a child sitting under a tree reading a book (perhaps Anne’s diary?) appears to be of an African plane tree. This is a level three, “Step Into Reading” title. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross AGERANGE: Ages 6 to 8.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-01
This brief but powerful introduction to Anne Frank's life uses a format suitable for both newly independent readers and older readers who need simplified text. The chestnut tree is used as a framing device, providing a narrative hook to introduce Anne and her life in captivity in World War II–era Amsterdam. A quote from Anne's diary is paired with a powerful image of Anne looking out through an attic window at the tree's bare branches. The concluding pages detail how the tree finally met its end in a powerful storm; sadness is countered with the hopeful description of hundreds of saplings from the famous tree planted around the world. A rather overwrought final page draws a parallel between these new trees and Anne's words, which "have been planted in the minds of the millions who read her diary." (Oddly, the tree depicted here does not appear to be a chestnut.) The context of the Nazi era and the basic facts of Anne's life are skillfully summarized, ending with her family being sent to concentration camps and a brief acknowledgement that "Anne did not survive the war." Touching illustrations in muted tones augment the portrayal of Anne's character and add to the atmospheric depiction of her life in the Secret Annex. A sensitive introduction to a young woman whose words continue to live. (bibliography, author's note) (Early reader/biography. 6-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375981135
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
09/24/2013
Series:
Step into Reading
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
48
File size:
10 MB
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

JANE KOHUTH has a degree in English and creative writing from Brandeis University as well as a master's degree in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School. She is also the author of the Step into Reading title Ducks Go Vroom and the picture book Estie the Mensch.

ELIZABETH SAYLES's luminous art can be seen in over twenty children's books, including The Goldfish Yawned, a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book; Millions of Snowflakes; and Billy Crystal's I Already Know I Love You, a New York Times #1 bestselling picture book.

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