Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Olive Tree - a book review

Quote of the day:

"A reader lives a thousand lives, before he dies, said Jojea.  The man who never reads lives only one." 
                                             -George R.R. Martin

Today's featured book:

Title:  The Olive Tree
Author:  Elsa Marston
Illustrator:  Claire Ewart
Ages:  5-8

Let's take a peek inside shall we?

About the book:

The setting is in Lebanon and Sameer is longingly looking forward to the return of his neighbours who have fled during the war. 

" The family who  had lived there had gone away during the troubles, because they were different from most of the people in the village."

 He is hoping that he will find a friend his age to play with and spend time with.  When the family returns a child is present, but it's not a boy as Sameer wished, but a girl....a very unfriendly girl.  

For years Sameer's family has been enjoying the bounty of the magnificent olive tree that bows down across a stone barrier fence between the neighbour's property and his.  He would gather the rich, ripe olives for his mother and she would add lemon and salt, making them the most delicious olives in all the land.  Muna, the little girl who moved in next door is not happy about him collecting "her olives" and accuses him of stealing them away from her family.  You see the trunk of the tree is in her yard and only some branches of the tree spread over to Sameer dropping the olives on his side of the fence.   

One fateful night a huge storm arrives and lightning strikes the tree causing it to split and crash to the ground.  The sheer magnitude of the crash crumbles the wall leaving an open gap between the neighbour's homes.  Stunned at the devastation, Sameer decides to be a good Samartian and help Muna and her family clear the ruination.  Muna with a grateful heart offers the olive branch of peace and leaves Sameer a gift to show he is a proven friend indeed.

About the illustrator:

Claire Ewart is a well known illustrator and author of books for children. She has illustrated books for famous authors such as Paul Fleischman (Time Train) and Tomie dePaola (The Legend of the Persian Carpet), who said of her abilities as an illustrator, “No author could ask for a more talented interpreter.” Ms. Ewart has also written and illustrated several books of her own, including One Cold NightThe Giant, and Fossil. Her rich and detailed watercolor illustrations are not only a visual treat, but, just as important, each one captures the essence of the story.
Claire Ewart’s work has received praise and awards from many reviewers and organizations. Ms. Ewart received the Celebrate Literacy Award from the International Reading Association. In addition, Ewart’s work as an illustrator has been included on Best Book lists from School Library Journal and Parent’s Magazine and has appeared on other such lists of recommended books. It has also appeared on the PBS television shows Reading Rainbow, and Storytime. Claire Ewart’s illustrations have been featured in museums and galleries, and included in the Society of Illustrators show “Original Art.” Her portfolio was featured in the 1992 edition of Children's Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.
Wisdom Tales Press welcomes Claire Ewart to our list of authors and illustrators for the book The Olive Tree (coming in November, 2014), written by Elsa Marston and illustrated by Ms. Ewart.  The Olive Tree is a moving story of two Lebanese children who are different in many ways but who share an attachment to an old olive tree that grows across both of their yards.

About the author:

Elsa Marston is an award-winning author of over 20 teen and children’s books, specializing in the Middle East and North Africa, ancient and modern. She has a master’s degree in international affairs from Harvard University with further study at the American University of Beirut, and has lived in Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia with her husband, the late Professor Iliya Harik of Indiana University. In addition to her books with Wisdom Tales (The Compassionate Warrior and, forthcoming, The Olive Tree), her recent work includes Santa Claus in Baghdad and Other Stories About Teens in the Arab WorldWomen in the Middle East: Tradition and ChangeThe Byzantine Empire, and Muhammad of Mecca, a historical biography. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

Book Review Rating:  8 (Fantastic!)

Read on and read always.  Enjoy your day.

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