“My father collects tears.” With this simple line, Linda Sue Parks draws readers into a gently told story of a young boy learning his father’s special craft, collecting tears of sap from small trees and shrubs in the ancient Middle East. Park’s story is paired with Bagram Ibatoulline’s stunning paintings; in shades of gold, accented by deep reds and pale blues, Ibatoulline transports the reader from desert to tent to market.
On this particular day, the boy and his father find one extraordinarily large and beautiful tear. The father allows him to gently twist it off. The boy treasures the tear, looking at it again and again. He wonders about the tears, how when you find them it seems that the tree is crying. He wonders about how the tears are used for medicine, how they are used to flavor wine, how the best and most expensive tears are used for funerals.
A few weeks later, three men who speak a strange language buy that large tear, along with a number of smaller tears. They need the tears to complete the gifts they already have for a baby: gold and frankincense and, with this tear, myrrh. Now the boy has something else to wonder about—the baby.
Park ends her story as simply as she began it. This subtly beautiful book invites readers of all ages to wonder about many things in a story that is ancient and familiar. Ages 6 and up. (Clarion)