Tree of Cranes

Every once in a while I like to bring in one of my old favorites. Here’s a tender cross-cultural holiday story.

IMG_0739Title: Tree of Cranes
Written and illustrated by: Allen Say
Houghton Mifflin, 1991
Suitable for ages: 4-8 years
Lexile: 470L
Themes/topics: Christmas, Japan, traditions

Opening: When I was not yet old enough to wear long pants, Mama always worried that I might drown in a neighbor’s pond. Time and again she warned me not to play there, but I never listened because the pond was filled with carp of bright colors.
The last time I went there was a gray winter day, too cold for the fish to move around. They never came out from under the rocks, and all I caught was a bad chill.      

Brief synopsis: (from As a young Japanese boy recovers from a bad chill, his mother busily folds origami paper into delicate silver cranes in preparation for the boy’s very first Christmas.

Activities and resources:
Parent / Teacher Resources page
This is an excellent book to use with English Language Learners (ELLs).

Why I like this book: Any book that sensitively bridges cultures, expands our world view, and increases cultural understanding is a winner with me. This story is told from the boy’s point of view as he learns about part of his mother’s life from an earlier time. The crisp and richly detailed illustrations are gorgeous.

Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent resources.

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