cover image The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank's Window

The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank's Window

Jeff Gottesfeld, illus. by Peter McCarty. Knopf, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-385-75397-5

Gottesfeld (Anne Frank and Me) imagines that a massive horse chestnut tree, with leaves like "green stars," was a stalwart, loving observer of Anne Frank as she hid with her family for two years (the afterword notes that the tree is mentioned three times in The Diary of a Young Girl). The tree watches through an attic window as Anne fills the pages of her red-and-white diary and has her first kiss; when the family is taken away, the tree keeps vigil for them season after season. Writing with a quiet lyricism, Gottesfeld portrays the tree as never understanding why the family has to stay inside, or the forces that swept them away, which makes it a poignant surrogate for readers who are themselves coming to grips with happened to Anne and all the Jews who perished in the Holocaust. McCarty's (Bunny Dreams) sepia drawings, somber tableaus textured like fine engravings, convey the seriousness and sadness of the story, though perhaps less of Anne's exuberant personality. Ages 5%E2%80%938. Author's agent: Jason Yarn, Paradigm Talent Agency. Illustrator's agent: Gotham Group. (Mar.)