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4.5/5 (57 ratings)
157 pages
1 hour
Sep 26, 2017


From Scribd: About the Book

From the New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Newberry Medal Katherine Applegate comes a story of kindness, friendship, and hope.

Trees can't tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories…

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all.

Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experience as a wishtree is more important than ever.

Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, this is Katherine Applegate at her very best—writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view.

This book has Common Core connections.

Sep 26, 2017

About the author

Katherine Applegate is the Newbery Medal-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author of numerous books for young readers, including The One and Only Ivan, The One and Only Bob, Crenshaw, Wishtree, the Roscoe Riley Rules chapter books series, and the Animorphs series. She lives with her husband, who writes as the author Michael Grant, and their children in California. Website: Twitter: Facebook: Instagram:

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Wishtree - Katherine Applegate



It’s hard to talk to trees. We’re not big on chitchat.

That’s not to say we can’t do amazing things, things you’ll probably never do.

Cradle downy owlets. Steady flimsy tree forts. Photosynthesize.

But talk to people? Not so much.

And just try to get a tree to tell a good joke.

Trees do talk to some folks, the ones we know we can trust. We talk to daredevil squirrels. We talk to hardworking worms. We talk to flashy butterflies and bashful moths.

Birds? They’re delightful. Frogs? Grumpy, but good-hearted. Snakes? Terrible gossips.

Trees? Never met a tree I didn’t like.

Well, okay. There’s that sycamore down at the corner. Yakkity-yakkity-yak, that one.

So do we ever talk to people? Actually talk, that most people-y of people skills?

Good question.

Trees have a rather complicated relationship with people, after all. One minute you’re hugging us. The next minute you’re turning us into tables and tongue depressors.

Perhaps you’re wondering why the fact that trees talk wasn’t covered in science class, during those Mother Nature Is Our Friend lessons.

Don’t blame your teachers. They probably don’t know that trees can talk. Most people don’t.

Nonetheless, if you find yourself standing near a particularly friendly-looking tree on a particularly lucky-feeling day, it can’t hurt to listen up.

Trees can’t tell jokes.

But we can certainly tell stories.

And if all you hear is the whisper of leaves, don’t worry. Most trees are introverts at heart.


Name’s Red, by the way.

Maybe we’ve met? Oak tree near the elementary school? Big, but not too? Sweet shade in the summer, fine color in the fall?

I am proud to say that I’m a northern red oak, also known as Quercus rubra. Red oaks are one of the most common trees in North America. In my neighborhood alone, hundreds upon hundreds of us are weaving our roots into the soil like knitters on a mission.

I have ridged, reddish-gray bark; leathery leaves with pointed lobes; stubborn, searching roots; and, if I do say so myself, the best fall color on the street. Red doesn’t begin to do me justice. Come October, I look like I’m ablaze. It’s a miracle the fire department doesn’t try to hose me down every autumn.

You might be surprised to learn that all red oaks are named Red.

Likewise, all sugar maples are called Sugar. All junipers are called Juniper. And all boojum trees are called Boojum.

That’s how it is in tree world. We don’t need names to tell one another apart.

Imagine a classroom where every child is named Melvin. Imagine the poor teacher trying to take attendance each morning.

It’s a good thing trees don’t go to school.

Of course, there are exceptions to the name rule. Somewhere in Los Angeles there’s a palm tree who insists on being called Karma, but you know how Californians can be.


My friends call me Red, and you can, too. But for a long time people in the neighborhood have called me the wishtree.

There’s a reason for this, and it goes way back to when I wasn’t much more than a tiny seed with higher aspirations.

Long story.

Every year on the first day of May, people come from all over town to adorn me with scraps of paper, tags, bits of fabric, snippets of yarn, and the occasional gym sock. Each offering represents a dream, a desire, a longing.

Whether draped, tossed, or tied with a bow: They’re all hopes for something better.

Wishtrees have a long and honorable history, going back centuries. There are many in Ireland, where they are usually hawthorns or the occasional ash tree. But you can find wishtrees all over the world.

For the most part, people are kind when they visit me. They seem to understand that a tight knot might keep me from growing the way I need to grow. They are gentle with my new leaves, careful with my exposed roots.

After people write their hope on a rag or piece of paper, they tie it onto one of my branches. Usually they whisper the wish aloud.

It’s traditional to wish on the first of May, but people stop by throughout the year.

My, oh my, the things I have heard:

I wish for a flying skateboard.

I wish for a world without war.

I wish for a week without clouds.

I wish for the world’s biggest candy bar.

I wish for an A on my geography test.

I wish Ms. Gentorini weren’t so grumpy in the morning.

I wish my gerbil could talk.

I wish my dad could get better.

I wish I weren’t hungry sometimes.

I wish I weren’t so lonely.

I wish I knew what to wish for.

So many wishes. Grand and goofy, selfish and sweet.

It’s an honor, all the hopes bestowed upon my tired old limbs.

Although by the end of May Day, I look like someone dumped a huge basket of trash on top of me.


As you’ve probably noticed, I’m more talkative than most trees. This is new for me. I’m still getting the hang of it.

Nonetheless, I’ve always known how to keep a secret. You have to be discreet when you’re a wishtree.

People tell trees all kinds of things. They know we’ll

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What people think about Wishtree

57 ratings / 21 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    A great story told by the great oak tree about friendship, family and acceptance.
  • (5/5)
    If this could give more then 5 stars for this book I would. One of the all time best children books I've ever read and I'm making sure to order many for stocking for Christmas this year!! The life of a Red Oak Tree told by the tree and his best friend Bongo the Crow!
  • (5/5)
    Did you know trees can talk? Red, the wishtree can. She has two hundred and sixteen rings worth of life experience and has carried over two hundred years worth of human wishes. Before her life is over, can Red help make one more wish come true?Written from the tree's perspective, author Katherine Applegate, crafts a tale of hope, love, and acceptance. See our world in a whole new light. WISHTREE will stay in your heart long after the last page. I recommend this book for the young and old.
  • (4/5)
    Swoon...loved this one. It had such a creative premise taking a fun twist on the talking animals genre. Adults can also appreciate some of the detailed funny touches. I particularly smiled at this one:

    "Of course, there are exceptions to the name rule. Somewhere in Los Angeles there’s a palm tree who insists on being called Karma, but you know how Californians can be."

    The story also had a timely and important theme about inclusion and tolerance in a realistic way without feeling heavy-handed or preachy.
  • (3/5)
    It's personally a little too saccharine for my taste, but younger middle-readers can enjoy it.
  • (4/5)
    Red is a majestic red oak tree who has seen many seasons come and go. He is also the neighborhood 'wishtree' where people tie their wishes and aspirations to his branches. But when a Muslim family moves into the neighborhood, someone leaves a message of hate instead. This is a heartwarming story about the power of love and healing when a community comes together. It's sad that this book is so relevant today, but I'm grateful for authors who address this issue and tell an uplifting story with warmth and empathy, interspersed with humor. Definitely a good book for the entire family.
  • (5/5)
    Delightful read-aloud about a wise old tree, the power of words, and the families we choose for ourselves. Katherine Applegate is my kids' new favorite author.David rating - 5/5Sophia rating - 5/5Mommy rating - 5/5
  • (4/5)
    This short MG fantasy packs a punch with a tale about prejudice, friendship, conservation, tradition, and community.
  • (5/5)
    Great book for adolescents about the desire and benefits of friends. A story told by a tree.
  • (5/5)
    What a beautiful book written about friendship and the hardships that sometimes come when making new friends, and accepting others. I loved the wonderful message it produced, accept others as they are, love everyone even when it’s hard, be a friend.
  • (5/5)
    Such a great read that I finished in one sitting. It's from a fun point of view as a tree and tells story about community and friendship.
  • (5/5)
    I only picked up this book to see if I'd be interested in it. I finished it in one sitting. Such a great book with a powerful message. I think even some adults could learn from this book. I can't wait to share this with my daughter one day and hope she will show kindness to others, too.
  • (4/5)
    wow this was beautiful! sometimes moral stories can be somewhat dry for me, even when i was little i found 'em dry, but i loved this and cried TWICE.

    powerful writing. <3
  • (4/5)
    Even though it’s a bit Disney-esk in the sense that things just worked out because they were constructed to, it had a very beautiful message that makes it worth a read. The short and occasionally disjointed chapters told from an unusual character did make for an interesting read, as well.

    This was the ‘adult’ version, but it still read more like a children’s book. But, I don’t think there’s anything wrong or weird with adults enjoying books aimed at children. Just something to take into consideration when choosing your next read.

    If you’re looking for something optimistic that is trying to mask itself as realistic, that is also a short and simple read, this is good.
  • (5/5)
    This book is wonderful and pure, funny and creative. But most importantly, I am a better person for having read it. I am so glad this book exists in the world!
  • (5/5)
    I loved how encouraging this book was to me first it should that friendship is easier to find than you think and second, it shows great nature and that we should treat nature right without destroying its life.
  • (3/5)
    I'm getting tired of belabored parables masquerading as middle-grade fiction.
  • (4/5)
    Applegate weaves a sweet story of community - both plant, animal and human - in this story. Red is a wishtree who has seen 216 rings. She is home to all kinds of animal families and watches over two houses in the neighborhood. She's seen generations of immigrant families come to the neighborhood. However, when a new family moves in not everyone is welcoming and Red, facing being cut down, decides to take action. Touch, powerful, and Applegate weaves lots of learning (animal group names, tree information) and fancy into the narrative. I finished reading it and bought two copies for different elementary schoolers in my life.
  • (3/5)
    A nice book to read with your children, but a little obvious and contrived for my tastes.

    It reads a lot like a story a grandmother would make up for her grandchildren - with a generational take on intolerance and hardship that feels detached from the actual experience of the disadvantaged, put through the lens of the advantaged in order to convey some progressive values. All of which is positive... but we're a culture becoming more accustomed to the disadvantaged speaking for themselves in a more authentic way.

    I love the illustrations (they push the book from a 3 to a 3.5 for me).
  • (4/5)
    Wishtree by Katherine Applegate is about Red. A tree, but not just any tree. Red is a Wishtree.This story wasn't what I thought it was going to be, but I found it to be imaginative and creative. I loved the characters, and the writing was simple but enticing. A great story of the differences of people around us and the feelings these differences can evoke. I feel all children should read this book.
  • (5/5)
    Beautiful, unique book. This made me cry several times. I haven’t read a book narrated by an inanimate object or animals since… childhood, probably. And I know this is a children’s book, but I hope everyone reads it. So beautiful, so accepting, and exactly what we all need to learn right now.