2016 in [Book] Review Books DiverseKidLit Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Diverse KidLit] Altered Perspective of Anne Frank’s Story as Seen from “The Tree In The Courtyard”

Myra here.

Our theme for both linkups in January is Human Rights. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is celebrated in the US in January, think about your favorite books to share with children about the importance and the history of human rights and/or civil rights. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.


We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, February 4th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current month is Human Rights. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes.

  • February 4th and 18th linkups: Love. Let’s spread our love of diverse books by sharing diverse books about love, families, and relationships.
  • March 4th and 18th: Changing Seasons. As we eagerly await the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern, let’s share favorite books and resources on the seasons.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from last time was a review by Alex of Randomly Reading of Ashes, book 3 in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Seeds of America trilogy.


Given that our theme for the current month is Human Rights, I thought of sharing this picturebook published last year that is a potent reminder of our rights as people, as seen through the eyes of a tree in the courtyard.


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

Written by: Jeff Gottesfeld Illustrated by: Peter McCarty
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
ISBN: 0385753977 (ISBN13: 9780385753975)Borrowed a copy from the Jurong West Public Library. Book Photos taken by me. 

I love life story narratives that are told from an altered perspective. A few that comes to mind include The Cart That Carried Martin or My Uncle Emily, The Extraordinary Mark Twain According to Susy, Minette’s Feast among others.

In Jeff Gottesfeld’s powerfully-written picturebook, The Tree in the Courtyard, having lived a rich life of 172 years, is given voice as it is shown to reach skyward in the very building where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.


While Anne Frank’s story has been told countless of times before, I felt that this one highlighted a rooted witness to the atrocities that happened during this young girl’s life that will not fail to move any reader, no matter how jaded or cynical.


It also seemed particularly fitting, because I never realized just how vital a role this tree played in Anne Frank’s life, serving as a symbol for her captivity, hopeful dreams, and link to an outside world that she has been deprived of at such a young age. I was also especially touched by these lines:

By the end of the century, the tree had lived a full life. She was ready to die.

Many strangers came to try to save her. They injected her with medicine. They trimmed her crown and cut sprouts from her trunk.


They built her a steel support and collected her seedpods like gold coins.

The tree recalled how few had tried to save the girl.

Peter McCarty is also a revelation for me here, having known his works in Jeremy Draws a MonsterChloeand Henry in LoveAll these earlier titles are pretty light-hearted, humorous, and childlike in nature. I am glad that it was his thoughtful, sepia-toned lines that illuminated this heartfelt story of Anne Frank’s tree.

The Afterword also indicated how this aging tree’s saplings have been planted at quite a number of American locations that are said to “notable in the quest for freedom and tolerance.” I believe, now more than ever, we need to plant seeds of kindness, acceptance, and courage around the world. Definitely a quiet, beautiful story that you should add to your libraries.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

3 comments on “[Diverse KidLit] Altered Perspective of Anne Frank’s Story as Seen from “The Tree In The Courtyard”

  1. I hadn’t heard of this book, so thank you for bringing it to my attention. The idea of the tree as a witness to the atrocities gives me chills. And the artwork is simply gorgeous.


  2. This sounds a really beautiful book – and you have written a beautiful review too – thank you. Yes, indeed, may we all sow ‘seeds of kindness, acceptance, and courage’


  3. This sounds interesting. Perspective always changes how you look at things (pun not intended).

    Liked by 1 person

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