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Book Recommendation: The Red Tree by Shaun Tan

February 9, 2010

I pulled this book off my bookshelf a few hours after I found out about the earthquake in Haiti, and I’ve read it at least once a week since then.

The Red Tree begins with a girl awaking to dark leaves drifting into her bedroom, and the words “sometimes the day begins with nothing to look forward to.”  As the girl goes about her day, she is alone, unable to communicate, and constantly surrounded by darkness. Finally, after what looks and feels like a long day (I gush about Tan’s illustrations later), the girl returns home to find that a little red leaf has grown into a bright red tree.  With that bright red tree comes a sense of renewal.

Tan uses colour exquisitely here: his illustrations are mostly made up of dark blues, greys and greens, making the occasional punch of bright colour that much more meaningful. The illustrations themselves are vivid, imaginative and detailed. They perfectly capture the complex emotions behind the few words on each page, and I find myself noticing more clever little details ever time I look.  This is truly a case of illustrations enriching and enhancing the text.

I love the message of this book, because it’s one that is unbelievably easy to lose sight of.  Sometimes all you need is a tiny bright spot in your day to give you the hope you need to persevere.  I often get caught up in the big things, and forget about the little, wonderful things that are right there in front of me. The Red Tree is my personal reminder to make time for a cup of tea, or to do a bit of yoga before bed, or to get off the streetcar one stop early on my way to work, just to enjoy the sunshine.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Suzie Gardner permalink
    February 9, 2010 1:02 PM

    This book sounds wonderful, and absolutely perfect for me lately as well. Remind me to borrow it from you.

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