Review of My Tree

My Tree
by Hope Lim; illus. by Il Sung Na
Primary    Porter/Holiday    32 pp.    g
5/21    978-0-8234-4338-3    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-0-8234-5055-8    $11.99

A young boy from Korea moves to America and finds a “tall, crooked, quiet” old plum tree in his new backyard that reminds him of his persimmon tree back home. He names her Plumee for the deep purple plums that “dotted every branch” and finds comfort in her whenever he misses home. One spring night, a windstorm knocks Plumee down. Yet even so, with “her roots pulled out of the earth,” she is still his playmate, becoming in his mind everything he wishes for: “a tree house. A rocket. An island. A ship.” The boy later plants “a new plum tree, short and straight” in Plumee’s old place and carefully tends the sapling, finding the same feeling of home as he waters her and watches her grow. Themes of resilience, hope, and vulnerability run through Lim’s simple and poetic text. Na’s digital illustrations help build empathy. On one dramatic double-page spread, a nearly glowing white silhouette of a ghostly Plumee appears against a dark night sky. The high contrast in hue conveys not just the absence of the tree but also the feeling of emptiness that her absence brings. Gentle symbolism employed throughout creates opportunities for discussion of change, connection, and adaptation.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Weileen Wang
You-Ling (Weileen) Wang loves to write, read, and illustrate. She attended Vanderbilt University, where she studied child development and fell in love with children's literature. She holds a master's degree in arts in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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