Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Katherine Applegate
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends; First Edition edition
Each year on the first of May, people bring written wishes on scraps of fabric and tie them to the tree's limbs. A little girl who has just moved into the neighborhood brings her wish before the traditional day. She wishes for a friend. The tree wants to grant this gentle little girl's wish. The tree has no magic, but when tested beyond her limit she breaks her silence and tells a story to the girl and to the boy in the house next door. Magic begins to happen. On wishing day the town brings rags and signs and messages, all inscribed with the word, "Stay".
Prejudice is an ugly subject, but this manages to be a very lovely story. The tree is an impartial observer telling the story that unfolds around it. The unfolding story is twined with meaningful pieces from the tree's history and the people who have lived close enough for it to observe. The crow is a comedian and friend that adds an earthy, caustic tone, contrasting with the gentle and patient nature of the tree. The friendly tension between bird and tree differs strikingly with the unfriendly prejudice against one family, but all of it combines into a message of solidarity in the end. This is an outstanding read for youth of any age.