Anne Frank and the Remembering Tree

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, illus. by Erika Steiskal. Skinner House/Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55896-738-0
Sasso’s story commemorates the horse chestnut tree that once stood outside Anne Frank’s “secret annex” in Amsterdam and served, after her death, as a landmark for visitors who toured the site. Now, Sasso explains, saplings from the original tree are being planted around the world. Readers who found out about the Holocaust through Anne’s diary may find the tree’s version of the Franks’ story even more troubling than the original. Anne’s captivity is rendered more poignant when viewed by a naïve, childlike outsider (“Anne and Margot, come out to play!” the tree calls), and the family’s final capture is, if possible, even more terrifying. “Don’t leave,” the tree calls to Anne and her sister as the Nazis drag them away. “Come outside. I will hide you in my branches.” Steiskal’s paintings, drafted with a documentary eye, add some pleasure to the pages as Anne looks out the window to see the tree covered with lacy white blooms. But the project of commemorating the tree while not drawing attention away from the horror of Anne’s fate proves an awkward balancing act. Ages 6–9. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/19/2015
Release date: 03/01/2015
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