A small child awakes to find blackened leaves falling from her bedroom ceiling, threatening to quietly overwhelm her. As she wanders around a world that is complex and alienating, she is overtaken by a myriad of feelings. Just as it seems all hope is lost, the girl finds that a red seedling has filled the room with light.
About the Author
Shaun Tan has an outstanding reputation for his illustrative work. He won the Spectrum Gold Award for Book Illustration 2000 and also the Crichton Award (The Viewer) in 1995. The Rabbits, written by John Marsden, was named CBCA Book of the Year and received the Aurealis Governor's Award in 1999; and Memorial, written by Gary Crew, was a CBCA Honour Book and also won an APA Design Award in 2000. He wrote and illustrated The Lost Thing, published in 2000. He has been a leading science-fiction illustrator in Australia for several years; with recognition including the illustrators of the Future Award 1991 and the Australian National Science Fiction Best Artist Award 1995, 1996. The Red Tree is his fifth picture book.
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Comments about The Red Tree:
Recommended to me by a sad 13 yr old who found the book encouraging and hopeful. I can only agree with her - useful as a text that engages readers emotionally and soothes anxiety.
Tan, who won the Best Artist Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2001, creates an unusual work for the very young that illuminates a dark side too often ignored or unacknowledged in children. A little red-haired girl wakens in her room one morning, "sometimes the day begins / with nothing to look forward to / and things go from bad to worse" Dry leaves that look like spiders are falling in her room, and in the gloomy outside, a huge fish looms over her head. There's a whole page of "sometimes you wait" as we see her counting aimlessly on a surface that becomes a snail's shell. As she wonders, and wanders, the world is very big and complicated. She returns to her room at the end of the day, and the small red leaf framed above her bed sprouts so that on the floor of her room, a red tree appears. Her idea? Her self? Her dreams? Who knows? And it doesn't matter. The images are obsessively detailed and full of surreal juxtapositions, and the child, who appears in a tiny boat, trapped in a bottle, and in various Bosch-inspired landscapes, lifts her head and smiles only on the last page, when she sees that flame-colored tree. An imaginative, sad, and ultimately uplifting tale of very few words and extraordinary images. (Picture book. 5-9) (Kirkus Reviews)
For Ages: 9+ years old
Number Of Pages: 48
Published: October 2001
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 31.6 x 24.2 x 0.9
Weight (kg): 0.45
Edition Number: 1