Author/Illustrator: Shaun Tan
Publisher and Year: Simply Read Books, 2001
Number of Pages: 24
Analysis: “The Red Tree” is about a young girl who feels trapped in a world of—what seems to be—never-ending sadness. It is not until she realizes that she has to take the good with the bad that her “red tree” grows. This book works well as a mirror for a lot of young girls who feel that they are trapped in a bubble of sadness or sorrow. In the beginning, the young girl feels helpless and almost like she has no power over her life. By the end of the book, she is rejuvenated and hopeful. The images of darkness and confusion seem to be an accurate representation of what sadness would look like if it was tangible.
Perceptually, this book has very few, spaced words. Some images are framed for a limited view, and the images are dark until the girl “reaches the light.” Her name is never given, perhaps because this could be anyone’s story.
Structurally, she walks to the right until she sees her tree-which is when she walks left, to her happy place. The word “wait” shrinks with each page to show a time lapse. She is trapped in a bottle because she feels isolated, and everyone around her is dark and gloomy.
Ideologically, this book teaches that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.