I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE TOGETHER TREE by Aisha Saeed and LeUyen Pham Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!
All Are Welcome meets Be Kind in this poignant and accessible picture book about the power every bystander—no matter how small—has to extend kindness and stand up in the face of intolerance.
At his new school, quiet Rumi feels small and unwelcome, and a few kids bully him for his brown skin and bright shoes. He finds refuge beneath the old willow tree by the playground and builds his own world of hope and dreams of belonging.
One day, when Rumi is made a target again, one of his classmates bravely steps in to defend him. It’s in that moment of solidarity Rumi’s class finally realizes that under the shade of the willow tree, all are welcome, and they create a space they can all play in—together.
The Together Tree is a well written and heartfelt children’s story about Rumi who moves from San Francisco to the other side of America.
I really liked that the author did not put the focus on Rumi’s gender, skin color, or culture as a source for the bullying.
While the book does feature characters of different backgrounds, it is not a main focal point. Instead, Rumi is picked on solely based on that he is the new kid and drew on his shoes.
The text is written sparse, but with subtleties that go hand in hand with Pham’s gentle, yet gorgeous illustrations.
I really like that the colors change or fade when the turning point incident happens, or when another character is upset. I feel like this shows children that the world is brighter/more colorful when we’re kind.
The little details in Rumi’s drawings are a wonderful touch.
The added authors note about the experience of her own child in kindergarten was heartbreaking, yet hopeful at the same time.
This was a fantastic addition to our homeschool library.
I rated The Together Tree four point five stars.
About Aisha Saeed:
Aisha Saeed is the author of Written in the Stars, which was listed as a Best Book of 2015 by Bank Street Books, a 2016 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, and named one of the Top Ten Books All Young Georgians Should Read in 2016. She is also the author of the middle grade novel Amal Unbound, which has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews and is a Global Read Aloud for 2018. Her other picture books include Bilal Cooks Daal and The Together Tree. Aisha is a founding member of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books. She has been featured on MTV, HuffPost, NBC, and the BBC, and her writings have appeared in publications including the journal ALAN and the Orlando Sentinel.
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About LeUyen Pham:
LeUyen Pham has illustrated more than fifty books, including board books, picture books, chapter books, and graphic novels. Her work has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles Bronze Medal in the Children’s Book category, and Best Books of the Year lists in publications such as Kirkus Reviews, The Horn Book Magazine, and Comic Book Resources. She is also a New York Times bestseller for Grace for President, written by Kelly DiPucchio; Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully, written by Julianne Moore; and Princess in Black, written by Shannon and Dean Hale. Born in Vietnam, LeUyen came to the United States at the end of the Vietnam War when she was only two. She studied illustration at The Art Center College of Design, and for a short period of time worked at DreamWorks Animation as a layout artist before turning to illustration full time. She lives with her husband (who is also an artist) and two sons in Los Angeles. Visit her online at LeUyenPham.com.
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Title: THE TOGETHER TREE
Author: Aisha Saeed and LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)
Pub. Date: May 30, 2023
Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Goodreads, https://books2read.com/THE-TOGETHER-TREE
One (1) winner will receive a finished copy of THE TOGETHER TREE, US Only.
Ends May 31st, midnight EST.
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