The Tree of Here

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Potok disappoints in his first children's book, an ill-pitched story that addresses the need for certain constants in a changing world. Jason is deeply upset when his parents announce that the family is moving--for the third time in five years. Although his friends and Mr. Healy the gardener offer support, it is the dogwood in his yard that gives Jason the most solace: ``This tree makes me feel like I'm growing roots. It makes me feel like I'm really here,'' he says. Seeing a face in the expressive, craggy bark, Jason confides his thoughts to the tree and, in turn, listens as the tree whispers its ``secret feelings.'' His character is amorphous: young enough to believe in talking trees, old enough to go to an ice cream parlor with just his friends, worldly enough to expect that he and his friends won't correspond (``They all knew that boys their age hardly ever wrote one another''). Auth deserves credit for rendering the tree as companionable instead of menacing, especially in a fantastical night scene during which Jason experiences the tree moving across the lawn, reaching into the house with its branches and embracing him. But Auth's art is frequently jarring and seems to nod at animated cartoons: for example, the emptiness said to ``invade'' the house is represented by white, textbook-style arrows. Don't go out on a limb for this one. Ages 5-9. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Potok's first book for children is about Jason, whose family has moved three times in five years and is about to relocate again. The boy must say farewell to a dogwood tree, with which he regularly holds mental conversations. Its deep roots are a metaphor for a sense of place and ``hereness.'' Before the family's car pulls away, the gardener gives Jason a little dogwood so that he can ``put down roots'' in his new home. Potok tries to relate the boy's distress with phrases such as ``the kitchen floor swayed slightly.'' Auth's watercolor illustrations show him engaging in violent play with his toy soldiers and computer games and bidding his friends goodbye. They work better than the text in conveying his emotions, but it is uncertain whether young readers will catch their nuances. The most emotional scene is at the cemetery, where Jason's mother says goodbye to her parents before leaving town, and her husband comforts her. This single-concept story lacks fully realized characters. Leda Siskind's The Hopscotch Tree (Bantam, 1992), with its rich characterizations, is a far better book about adjusting to a new school and finding comfort in communicating with a tree.-Marcia Posner, Federation of New York and the Jewish Book Council, New York City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679940104
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/7/1993
  • Pages: 1
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years

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