A Tree in the Courtyard
A Tree in the Courtyard is not just a story, it’s a poem and a beautiful tribute to Anne Frank. Unlike all of the stories about Anne Frank that I have read, this picture book focuses on the perspective of the chestnut tree that grows outside of Anne’s window. This beautiful book written by Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrated by Peter McCarty begins with “The tree in the courtyard lived for 172 years.” As the story progresses, the tree tells its story from birth to death. The beginning of its life had been filled with peace until war came. Once war came, “Explosions shook the ground; rockets split the nigh. Strangers invaded the city.” The first winter of the war, the life of the tree changed.
Anne Frank Arrives
When Anne moved in, “The tree loved the sight of her” As the story is told, Anne plays outside and writes by the kitchen window. This obviously changes as war progresses and Anne and her family go into hiding. The tree becomes sad when Anne is not visible anymore and longs to see her again. She feels a mix of emotions and sees the change in Anne both physically and emotionally until the day Anne and her family are taken away. The tree still lives but describes the emotions of the other people around such as Anne’s father and the woman helper who kept Anne and her family in her home.
The Tree Dies
The tree lives a full life but “was never the same” after Anne was taken away. She enjoys the visitors but longs for the sight of Anne again. The tree appreciates how others are trying to save her from dying but states, “how few had tried to save the girl” Until one summer day, “a storm snapped the tree’s trunk in two” which also coincidentally was Anne Frank’s birthday. “Just like the girl, she passed into history. Just like the girl, she lives on.”
Where is the Tree Now?
In the afterword of the book, the author gives a brief history about Anne Frank and where saplings have been planted around the United States. The Tree in the Courtyard is not only an educational book that gives history, it’s a book with feeling and emotion that is timeless.
To learn more about where Anne Frank’s tree saplings are buried, click here.