Review of Survivor Tree

Survivor Tree
by Marcie Colleen; illus. by Aaron Becker
Primary, Intermediate    Little, Brown    48 pp.    g
8/21    978-0-316-48767-2    $18.99

Colleen uses the cycle of the seasons to tell the remarkable story of New York City’s Survivor Tree. Through lyrical prose, she describes the Callery pear tree as it stood for nearly thirty years. “In fall, the tree blazed red with a million hearts before each took off in an elegant dance.” The author then alludes to the events of 9/11 (“One September day, the perfect blue sky exploded”), when the tree was crushed and burned in the devastation. As workers detected some green sprouts weeks later, the tree was declared to be “the last living thing pulled from the rubble.” It was taken to the Bronx, replanted, and painstakingly rehabilitated over the next decade. In December 2020, the tree was transported back to lower Manhattan, where today it has a place of honor silently marking the seasons, on the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. Becker’s (Caldecott honoree for Journey, rev. 9/13) lovely, elongated watercolor and colored-pencil compositions emphasize the vertical stature of the Twin Towers, the “steel straight” trunks of the trees around it, and the erect posture of the Statue of Liberty. The book’s trim size and occasional use of vertical type further reinforce the notion of standing tall. While there have been several books to date about the Survivor Tree (recently This Very Tree, rev. 7/21), this one is particularly well suited to young audiences and perfectly reflects the book’s dedication: “May peace and hope grow from the darkest of our days.”

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Luann Toth
Luann Toth

Luann Toth is a former reviews editor at School Library Journal. She holds an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.

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