I started seeing today’s guest, Hope Lim, in online kid lit writing groups a few years ago, and am truly excited to see all her hard work pay off! Hope mined her own heart for her new book MY TREE. Here she shares her connection to a special tree and how that translated into a story. Having grown up on a tree nursery, trees have always had a special place in my heart.
GIVEAWAY! Hope is offering a signed copy of MY TREE to one lucky winner who comments on the blog post!
And the winner of THE GREAT STINK by Colleen Paeff is … Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner! Congratulations!
Family Connection by Hope Lim
In MY TREE, a young boy, recently arrived from Korea, finds a glorious plum tree in his new backyard. It reminds him of a tree his family had back home, and he names it “Plumee” for the deep purple plums on its branches. Whenever the boy is homesick, he knows he can take shelter in Plumee’s tall branches.
When a storm brings the old tree down, the boy and his friends have all kinds of adventures on its branches, but soon they must say goodbye and the remains of the tree are taken away. Before long, a new plum tree is planted, new blossoms bloom, and a new friendship takes root.
MY TREE is essentially a collection of shared family memories about an old plum tree that stood in our backyard. Writing it would not have been possible if our old plum tree hadn’t fallen down during a rainstorm one spring. It would not have been possible if my son hadn’t been sad about it. It would not have been possible if I hadn’t looked out the window one morning and been struck by the emptiness of the yard after the tree was taken away.
What made this story even more personal and special is what my mother said after she heard about our fallen tree. The tree was huge and had managed to fall in a way that avoided any damage to our house or our neighbors’ houses. She said, “An old tree knows how to lie down when it’s time.” Instead of being sad and surprised, she said something profound and wise, reframing our perspective on the loss.
In the story, her comments comfort the young boy, who is resilient and imaginative, giving him a last chance to spend the time with the tree before it is taken away. As I wrote this story, waves of emotions came and receded. The more I worked on this story, the more vividly I remembered my home back in Korea, my parents, and the connection I hold tightly to time that has passed.
For me, mining the heart for stories can be done when I am honest with how I feel. I try to deliver those emotions in my stories, with the hope that others may feel what I want to share. In MY TREE, the key element is connection. Connection between two worlds, a new land and an old land, connection between a young boy and an old tree, connection between an old tree in America and a persimmon tree in Korea, connection between the past and present and the future, all woven through the quiet presence of nature (tree), which is always there for us. I hope MY TREE will be a comfort to those who find themselves in a new place. After writing this story, there is not a single day where I simply pass by an old tree in the park or on streets; they always remind me of Plumee and how they stand quiet in their place.
Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter the GIVEAWAY for a signed copy of MY TREE. (US addresses only, please)