Whoever gave the one star below woefully underestimated the depth and insight of our miracle children. A friend gave the book to me as a gift; it immediately became my favorite. I ordered three more for gifts. Everyone comments on the sunny disposition of my happy daughter, but she is a deep thinker and is affected by world events and the inherent stress of today's childhood. Children can also sense the pain and stress their parents sometimes experience, no matter how carefully we may try to shield them.
Phoebe said she could relate to the pictures in the book. It was she who pointed out to me that a red leaf is on every sad page. At the end she said, with a trimphant smile, "See? It was there all along, waiting to be a tree, but she couldn't see it!"
The book could not be more beautiful or more important. Do not hesitate to explore it with your children. Especially after 9/11, but even independent of that, they need to know their sometimes depressed feelings are not abnormal and there is a way to express them, and a reason to hope.
The Red Tree could also help to alleviate the stress they may feel in perceiving parental distress, by illustrating that no condition is hopeless.
In the unlikely child with a perpetually happy state of mind, there is no reason to shield them from understanding the feelings of others, and Tan makes this possible for even young readers, through engrossingly vivid, but not gruesome or frightening, images. It awakens compassion, empathy and strength. It is nothing short of a masterpeice.
Here is Phoebe:
"I thought it was perfectly fine. I loved the pictures!"