The Red Tree

A nameless girl passes helplessly through many dark moments, yet ultimately finds something hopeful at the end of her journey. This is a really unusual children's book: it focuses on dark experiences of loneliness, loss, dislocation, fear, alienation, using metaphorical images to convey them. The bleakness can seem unrelenting, but then comes a opening of hope, right at the end. No explanation given, we must interpret all ourselves. It offers a rare chance to talk about intense and difficult emotions with children, and we empathise hugely with the girl, as we too feel the alientation and disoientation of her journey. A picture book of very few words, riveting (and disturbing) images, and a profound emotional journey. I'd introduce it at age four, but keep it certainly through teenage years and beyond. Here is a short video of it being read aloud. 

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Shaun Tan
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