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Never-Ending Greenness

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A country blossoms with promise and life

The trees in the old European city of Vilna stretch their branches toward the sun-filled skies. But when war comes, a small boy and his family escape to Israel. There, in the safety of their new home, the boy begins planting seedlings in the barren hills. In hope-filled text and soaring illustrations, a boy's dream becomes a rich vision of life, a never-ending greenness of the human spirit that is ...

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Overview

A country blossoms with promise and life

The trees in the old European city of Vilna stretch their branches toward the sun-filled skies. But when war comes, a small boy and his family escape to Israel. There, in the safety of their new home, the boy begins planting seedlings in the barren hills. In hope-filled text and soaring illustrations, a boy's dream becomes a rich vision of life, a never-ending greenness of the human spirit that is celebrated today in the Israeli tree-planting holiday of Tu b'Shvat.

When his family comes to live in Israel after the end of World War II, a young boy begins planting and caring for trees, a practice that spreads across the whole country.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Waldman (The Golden City: Jerusalem's 3,000 Years) may have bit off a little more than he can chew with this ambitious picture book. The story opens in pre-WWII Vilna, joyfully pictured in bright, candy-like colors applied in Waldman's characteristic impressionist style. Then "soldiers" march into the neighborhood and force everyone "into a place called the ghetto"; the palette shifts to heavy grays and browns. The narrator and his parents escape to the forest, and by the fourth spread the war ends and the family travels to "eretz Yisrael," where war rages also. The rest of the story is devoted to the boy's dream of planting trees throughout the desolated land and the industriousness with which he realizes his vision. The breakneck opening will be confusing-if not downright overpowering-to children who don't have firm knowledge of the Holocaust (the words "Jews," "Nazi" and "Israel" appear only in a note). The links between the various episodes, chiefly the narrator's references to the trees of Vilna and to the protective foliage of the forest, are too delicate for the cataclysmic events described. The other possible stumbling block is Waldman's stylized palette-when faces can be partially blue, skies orange or daubed with pink and the hills turquoise, the miracle of green trees blanketing the once parched land seems much less dramatic. A reference to Tu b'Shvat, however, might commend the book to families who observe that holiday. Ages 7-up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
A young Jewish boy takes us from the friendly, tree-lined streets of his hometown, pre-World War II Vilna, through the wartime horrors of the ghetto, to the freedom and struggles of a new life in Israel. In the barren, rocky hills of his new home, the boy begins to plant and care for rare seedlings. Eventually he inspires others to do the same, thus creating an annual tree-planting holiday that gradually restores the land. The colorful acrylic illustrations are in a bold, outlined style with backgrounds employing pointillism. An historical note is included.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
In 1947 Israel was a war-torn, barren land, but it was home to refugees from Europe. In a heart-warming picture book, Neil Waldman creates the character of a young boy who escapes from Vilna, Lithuania to Israel. He dreams of forests of trees and takes action by nurturing a seedling growing on a rocky hillside. Soon he is planting and caring for hundreds of trees so that the once arid land blooms into a carpet of green. This book not only tells an enchanting story but also explains the Jewish holiday of Tu b'Shvat. The blues, greens and oranges of the paintings add to the magic of this enchanting fantasy.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8This well-written story retells simply a complicated tale of displacement and rebuilding. The narrator begins, "I was born many years ago in a city called Vilna. I remember my papa's bakery, all filled with wonderful smells....But mostly I remember the trees." The double-page illustration is colorful and lively, depicting a busy city scene. With a turn of the page, the mood changes abruptly; the landscape is colorless and gray, and foreboding Nazi soldiers dominate the space: "What remained was a world of stone and mud, crisscrossed by brown-puddled streets where skinny, puffy-eyed people drifted like ghosts." The color returns to the illustrations after the boy's family makes a harrowing escape and emigrates to "eretz Yisrael" (the land of Israel). From that background the story develops, describing the replanting of a barren and empty land through the painstaking and optimistic work of its new settlers. As the story draws to its conclusion, the narrator, now an old man, comments, "Each year, the forest spreads, covering our country with a carpet of green." Waldman's vibrant acrylic double-page illustrations, with their simple form and pointillistic style, convey that change admirably. A historical note provides a concise factual background. An uplifting story and a tribute to the people who were committed to "the greening" of Israel.Lee Bock, Brown County Public Libraries, Green Bay, WI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688144807
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/1997
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 7 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.33 (w) x 10.32 (h) x 0.39 (d)

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