Based on the Second World War story of Naomi and Stephen in Naomi’s Road, Naomi’s Tree is a poetic children’s picture book about enduring love and its almost mystical power to heal the spirit.
A young couple leaves Japan for the coast of Canada, bringing a cherry seed to plant in their new garden. During the years that follow, the little cherry tree watches over the family as the couple have children, and then grandchildren. Young Naomi makes the cherry tree her special friend, and the tree’s branches shelter her as she plays. But one day, war breaks out between the two countries, and the family is sent to an internment camp away from the coast. And though Naomi often dreams of going home, the dream fades as the years go by. The little tree is left behind to mourn its loss.
For many years the cherry tree sends out a song of love and peace that reaches Naomi only in her dreams. But the insects and small animals hear the song, and on the wind they send back their own messages to the tree, assuring it that Naomi is safe and that one day she will return. And when she does, the tree will be waiting for her.
Kogawa’s story is really about the power of love and how time can bring about reconciliation and new hope. Ruth Ohi’s artwork in coloured pencil is suitably sensitive and delicate.
(Winnipeg Free Press)
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