Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Cherry Tree

The Cherry Tree by Daisaku Ikeda (English translation by Geraldine McCaughrean), illustrated by Brian Wildsmith (Knopf, 1991). 

Today was the annual cherry blossom festival in my city. Although only a couple of trees were in bloom due to the late start to spring this year, it was a beautiful sunny day. As such, I thought this would be a good time to share this book.

The Cherry Tree is a story of a Japanese village that has been through war. The father of the two young protagonists was killed and their mother's heart is broken. When the children see an old man taking care of an old cherry tree that hasn't bloomed since before the war, they at first wonder if he's wasting his time and energy. But they decide to help him and soon they are filled with hope that the tree will bloom again. It's a powerful story about resilience through great struggle. As always, Brian Wildsmith's illustrations are rich and layered with amazing pops of color. 

Photo from today's festival:

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Alma and How She Got Her Name

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal (Candlewick Press, 2018).

This sweet book is about a little girl with a big name: Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela. She tells her dad how she doesn't like her long name because it never fits when she's writing it. Her father proceeds to explain why she has the name she does. Each name is from a relative on her family tree, and he tells her a little about each person, so that they come alive to her. She notices the similarities between her relatives and herself. When they get to her first name, Alma, her father says he picked the name just for her. "You are the first and the only Alma. You will make your own story."

I've always been interested in family history, as well as origins behind names, so I really enjoyed this. Both the story and the illustrations are so lovely. Juana Martinez-Neal has illustrated a couple other books, but this is her debut as an author. I'm sure we'll see much more from her as she's obviously very talented in both areas! 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. All opinions are my own.