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An oak tree named Red, the narrator of this juvenile novel, has been watching the world go by for more than two centuries. He’s seen different ethnic groups settling around him—sometimes they were welcomed, at other times, despised.

Besides being observant, Red has played a vital role in people’s lives. He’s a wishtree. For decades people have written their wishes on scraps of fabric or paper and tied them to Red’s branches, hoping that their dreams will come true.

Now Red observes Samar, a Muslim girl who has recently moved into the neighborhood along with her family. When Red witnesses backlash against the newcomers and experiences a threat to his own security, he wants to act and make a difference. After all, Red has been in the habit of being welcoming and helpful; he shelters a menagerie of creatures in his hollows and on his branches because he believes that “making others feel safe is a fine way to spend your days.”

Author Katherine Applegate, with the help of illustrator Charles Santoso, gently and in age-appropriate ways portrays the damage caused when one group denigrates another. And she shares the deep conviction that seeking the well-being of others is the responsibility of each person. Ages 8 and up. (Feiwel & Friends)

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