When an editor at the New York Times Book Review contacted me to review a Young Adult novel, I thought she might have confused me with someone else. But of course, I never say no. And then I read one of the most beguiling novels I’ve had the joy of picking up this year, Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate. The book is narrated by a tree—hence, the connection with me; because of the garden and great outdoors books I review for the Times, I’m kind of a resident tree-hugger.
When I finished Wishtree, which I read through in one go, I had my own wish: that all across this country, libraries and schools and nursing homes and television stations and government offices would sponsor Read-Ins with the novel.
This wish is even more vivid today, because of what feels to me like a cruel, sour decision to throw the lives of 800,000 young people, brought to this country in the arms of their parents, into disarray.
What does any of this have to do with protecting our children’s health from climate change and air pollution? Lots. Leaving aside the brilliant work of each and every tree we plant in sucking up carbon and returning it to us in more usable form—the extreme weather that is hitting our cities and towns with more frequency and power disproportionately threatens this vulnerable community, intertwining with the roots of our mission.
Note how many families along the Texas coast had no flood insurance, no home insurance. When you get right down to it, families torn apart, threats to children’s health and well being—whether by the heavy weather or hurricanes, or politics—is what we are all about.
Here’s the link to my review. I hope you enjoy Wishtree.