The Tree of Life: How a Holocaust Sapling Inspired the World

Penguin/Rocky Pond. Jan. 2024. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593617120.
K-Gr 4–Boxer and Rozentsveig provide a story of hope in this book, focusing on the life and legacy of a maple tree planted in secret by Irma Lauscher, a Jewish teacher, and students in Terezin (located in modern-day Czech Republic). Miraculously, both the teacher and the tree survive the Holocaust and WWII. Subsequently, seeds from the tree are planted around the world; those trees are still thriving today, despite the original “dropping its last leaf” in 2007. The difficult subject matter feels more approachable both through the narrative’s language and accompanying soft illustrations. A sparingly used, intense red indicates the Nazis’ presence and amplifies with a jolt the otherwise earth-toned artwork. After the narrative, an author’s note provides additional information about the descendants of the original tree, the teacher, and the location itself. Selected sources are also included. Front end papers feature fall-colored foliage on a black background, while in the back, bright spring colors evoke hope and a new day.
VERDICT An approachable and valuable resource. Recommended for most collections.

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