To Wish Upon a Tree

Book Review: Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Have you ever had a wish you always wanted to have granted? Was it something silly like wishing for a flying skateboard? Or was it something more serious and meaningful like world peace? This particular story focuses on a simple wish to have a friend.

Red is a red oak tree known in its neighborhood as a wishtree. This tradition was brought many years ago by an Irish immigrant. Every year on the first of May, people from all around town go to the tree to hang rags and slips of paper on which they have written their wishes. Legend has it that the tree has the power to grant the wishes placed upon it.

Red's neighborhood has always been a blend of many traditions, a cultural melting pot. Because of this, Red has seen many diverse groups of people join the neighborhood. Strangely enough, as a new family movies in, they do not seem to be on the same path to acceptance.

red does not understand why the family is being shunned, but whatever the case, it is also affecting the family's daughter, Samar. Samar was a shy and kind child, so kind that all of the animals that Red houses adore her. She often comes to Red at night and stays with the animals. But one day, instead of spending time in the grass, she simply hands a wish before leaving. This wish asks only for a friend.

Red has always been comfortable as a bystander, never taking sides or attempting to change the natural path. However, this situation is too much for the tree. Red, along with the animals, make it their mission to help young Samar achieve her wish.

Personally, I loved this book. The author managed to make it into an astounding kid's tale while still leaving hints of a deeper story. For example, the reason for the discrimination against the family is their religion and home country. The book also said that this wasn't the first neighborhood where this had happened. This is told through small nods and lines that may go unnoticed by younger minds, but that paint a larger picture for the older audience. This is especially important considering the relevance it holds to our current society. Overall, this story was a perfect blend of fantasy and modern-day issues. I highly recommend it for all ages.