The Red Tree By Shaun Tan




If you are at all familiar with ‘those’ days and sometimes things just seem a little much or a little not enough, this would be a wonderful book to read.


The Red Tree has few, but powerful words and detailed, layered illustrations. The narrative begins at the start of one of ‘those’ days, when there seems nothing to look forward to and nothing to smile about. On ‘those’ days, problems mount and the lives of others always appear so much easier and shinier than your own.

Eventually, though, these times come to an end and just as quickly as they began, your problems and sadness fade and your world starts to live again.


Why I love it:

We all have a little roller coaster of emotions going on inside us and I think most people can relate to times when everything just seems a little greyer than normal. I appreciate that this book takes the loneliness out of those feelings; it reminds us that we all experience this and that it will pass.

I have always been a big believer in the idea that in order to feel truly happy, we need:

  • Someone to love
  • Someone to make us feel loved
  • Something to look forward to

The Red Tree, touches on the importance of having something to look forward to, and I love that – I relate to that.


Themes to discuss with your child:

  • Something to look forward to
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling lonely
  • Feeling as though you’re missing out
  • Coping
  • Hope
  • Change of fortune
  • Happiness
Questions to ask your child:
Before reading:
  • What do you think this book might be about?
  • Do you think this is a fiction book (a story) or a non-fiction book (facts)?
  • Is this a book you want to read? Why/why not?
  • What is one adjective you could use to describe how the girl on the cover is feeling?
  • What are some of the words written on the boat she is in?
  • What do you think the red tree might be? What might it represent?
After reading:
  • Did you enjoy this story? Why/why not?
  • Have you ever felt the way the girl in the story felt?
  • How would you describe her feelings?
  • What do you think you could do the next time you feel this way?
  • Now that you’ve read the story, what do you think is the meaning behind the red tree?

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