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The Red Tree

October 1, 2001

The Red Tree

By Shaun Tan, Hachette Australia, 2001.

‘sometimes the day begins with nothing to look forward to’

Cover of a book showing a sad girl in a paper boat looking at a single red floating leafThe Red Tree is a beautifully illustrated story about depression. The story opens with a little girl sitting up in bed. She is sad and brown leaves fall in her room, and then so many dead leaves fill her room so that you can’t see her bed anymore. There is one bright red leaf in each picture though. A leaf of hope. She just can’t see the red, living leaf, but this leaf offers a good look-and-find element to the book.

She is overwhelmed by her feelings of sadness and depression. She walks the streets with her head hung low and the weight of the world on her shoulders. The world appears to reflect her sadness and hopelessness. She is engulfed in turmoil, and she watches all the wonderful things passing her by. She feels so lost until suddenly she sees the red leaf, that glimmer of hope, and it grows and grows and grows.

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Wrap Up

The Red Tree

  • 8/10
  • 9.5/10
  • 5/10
    Educational content
  • 0.1/10
  • 7.5/10


  • Beautifully illustrated with look and find elements.
  • Very detailed illustrations.
  • Offers a sense of hope where sadness and hopelessness seem so great.
  • Don't focus on the negative; look for that glimmer of hope.

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