Written by Katherine Applegate
An old red oak tree tells how he and his crow friend, Bongo, help their human neighbors get along after a threat against an immigrant family is carved into the tree’s trunk.
Primary Source Pairing:
In this beautiful story told by our main character, Red, a 216 ring (216 year old) northern red oak tree, we hear the narrative between the community where she grows. Red is an excellent narrator and teaches us about the animals as she tells their stories. Red is also an excellent listener and does not discriminate against any voice. Red is strong both in stature and soul. Wishtree opens the door for rich discussions around many topics including community, making wishes, immigration, nature, animals, and standing up for what you think is right even if it is hard. For this primary source pairing, consider the age of Red (216 rings) and look back at what was happening in your community 216 years ago. Collect maps as available from the Library of Congress and your local historical society that show your community as close to 200 years ago as you can find. Also, collect maps of your community today. Encourage students to make connections to Red’s experiences long ago and today. Use visual evidence from the old and new maps to show how your community has grown and changed. The primary source included above is an 1862 railroad map of the geographical area around Chicago.
Questions for Discussion:
- Describe what you see.
- What do you notice first?
- What size and shape is the map?
- What graphical elements do you see?
- What on the map looks strange or unfamiliar?
- What questions do you have about this map?
- What is the same about the older and newer maps? What is different?
- Make a connection to Red’s story in the book Wishtree with what you see on the maps.
Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“Map showing the location of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad with its branches & connections in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota:” Library of Congress