Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a touching nonfiction story.
Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “I was born nearly four hundred years ago on the island of Miyajima.”
Synopsis: From Goodreads; “This true children’s story is told by a little bonsai tree that lived with the same family in the Japanese city of Hiroshima for more than 300 years before being donated to the National Arboretum in Washington DC in 1976 as a gesture of friendship between America and Japan to celebrate the American Bicentennial.
The tree is called Miyajima after the island on which it first grew, before being gently uprooted and brought to the home of the Yamaki family, where it was lovingly pruned and trimmed by generations of fathers and sons.
At the end of the Second World War, an atomic bomb destroys Hiroshima. Many people die, but the Yamaki family and Miyajima survive. One day, a truck comes to take Miyajima away. The little tree is on its way to the National Arboretum in Washington as a gift of friendship from Japan to America. Miyajima is very proud, but also sad to leave the Yamaki family. At the end of the book, Masaru, the elderly grandfather of the family, and his ten-year-old grandson Akira, make a surprise visit to Washington to visit their much missed and beloved family member.“
Why I liked this book- This is a great book. It tells the (true!) story of one of the 50 bonsai trees (one for each US state) sent to America as a gesture of friendship. It starts in around 1625, when the tree is plucked as a seedling. The book is compelling. It tells you enough about Miyajima (the tree) and other bonsai to keep you reading, but peaks your interest enough to make you look up more about them! The illustrations are perfect too. They really bring you into the story. I really recommend this book to anyone interested in history, botany, or a good read.
Activities and Resources- You can research Bonsai trees. For a kid-friendly explanation, go HERE!
You can also look up the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum (where Miyajima currently resides) at the National Arboretum HERE!
To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!