Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Author’s website:


Author Interview with Scholastic: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/authors/k–a–applegate/

Katherine Applegate facts for kids:


Katherine Applegate discusses Wishtree (48:57):

Activities & Resources:


Macmillan Teacher’s Guide (Macmillan website): https://images.macmillan.com/folio-assets/teachers-guides/9781250043221TG.pdf

Wishtree activities guide (MacMillan resources):



Facts about the American Crow: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/american-crow/#crow-swoop.jpg

Opossum Facts (2:08):



Conduct this Spread Kindness activity. Give students a sticky note and have them write a kind thought on it. Then have students give their notes to others, post them on teacher doors, or place them on book covers in the local library.

Brainstorm acts of kindness with children. Create a list of kindness challenges to be completed at home, school, in the library, or with friends.

Have each student choose a wish from the wish tree, created as a MakerSpace activity. They should then try to fulfill the wish to the best of their ability.


How does a seed become a plant? (3:46): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkFPyue5X3Q

Seed germination video (5:27):

MakerSpace Activities:

Create a library wish tree. Use brown craft paper to create the trunk of the tree. Have strips of paper or fabric available for patrons to write their wishes and then attach to the tree using tape or tying to the branches.

Collect fallen leaves from the area. Have students draw, paint, or create a tree trunk. Students choose leaves from the collected pile to attach to their tree trunk. Then have students “carve” a positive message into the trunk using a marker or paint pen.

Have students make dog toys following the instructions in the link. All dog toys can be donated to a local animal shelter:


Collect acorns from outside. Have supplies including napkins, ziploc bags, markers, acorns, and water available for the activity. Give each participant an acorn, napkin, and ziploc bag. Have participants write their names on the bags. Wet each napkin with enough moisture to keep the seed damp for several days. Place the acorn inside the damp napkin and place in the ziploc bag. Seal the ziploc bag and place in different locations in the library– some in the windows getting sunshine, some in a darker location with no light, some under the library lighting. Have participants come in daily to check the progress of their plant and note the differences in growth.

Discussion Questions:

What wish would you tie onto the wish tree? Why?

Why do you think Red is so important to the animals nearby? What does Red do for the animals?

What is the significance of the animals giving Samar gifts?

What is the significance of Samar’s wish?

In the story, Red asks Bongo why she thinks people can be so cruel to one another. How would you answer this question?

Red plans to help Samar and Stephen become friends. Why do you think that Red wants to help make this happen?

What would you have changed about the animals’ plan to help Samar and Steven become friends?

How would you help someone who recently moved to your neighborhood feel welcomed?

What did the carving in Red mean? For whom was it carved?

How do Sandy and Max feel about the possibility of cutting down Red? What clues in the story support your conclusion?

What is the purpose of Red telling the story of Maeve?

How are Red’s and Bongo’s relationship an example of true friendship? Explain the reasons for your answer.

If you were to sum up the book in one tweet, what would you say in 140 characters?

Do you think Francesca should have cut down the wish tree? Give reasons for your answer.

Why do you think the author did not give more information about the boy who carved the word into Red?

What was your favorite part of the story? What makes this part of the story special for you?

What would you do if someone was targeting your friend because of his/her beliefs?

Do you think Stephen and Samar will remain friends after the story ends? What information in the story leads you to this conclusion?

Did you have to force yourself to finish the book or were you unable to put it down? Why?

Are there any symbols that may have cultural, political, or religious reference? List the symbols and describe their cultural, political or religious significance.

Book Talk Teasers:

Watch the book trailer on the TBA YouTube channel. What questions does the trailer raise for potential readers?

Read the Reader’s Theater, found on the TBA website.

Read Alikes:

Animal Fantasy

Appelt, Kathi. The true blue scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn, ancient Sugar Man, and his raccoon-brother Swamp Scouts Bingo and J’miah try to save Bayou Tourterelle from feral pigs Clydine and Buzzie, greedy Sunny Boy Beaucoup, and world-class alligator wrestler and would-be land developer Jaeger Stitch. (NoveList K-8)

DiCamillo, Kate. Flora & Ulysses. Rescuing a squirrel after an accident involving a vacuum cleaner, comic-reading cynic Flora Belle Buckman is astonished when the squirrel, Ulysses, demonstrates astonishing powers of strength and flight after being revived. (NoveList K-8)

Unusual Friendships

Bentley, Sue. A new friend. Eleanor’s boring summer vacation turns exciting when a magical pony from another world arrives and enlists her help in locating his runaway twin sister. (NoveList K-8)

Banks, Lynne Reid. The return of the Indian. A year after he sends his Native American friend, Little Bear, back into the magic cupboard, Omri decides to bring him back only to find that he is close to death and in need of help. (NoveList K-8)

Hoffman, Alice. Aquamarine. A love-struck mermaid named Aquamarine supplies adventure and insights to two twelve-year-old girls, life-long friends who are spending their last summer together before one of them moves away. (NoveList K-8)

Lindgren, Astrid. Pippi Longstocking. Escapades of a lucky little girl who lives with a horse and a monkey–but without any parents–at the edge of a Swedish village. (NoveList K-8)

Wishes granted

Dahl, Roald. Charlie and the chocolate factory. Each of five children lucky enough to discover an entry ticket into Mr. Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory takes advantage of the situation in his own way. (NoveList K-8)

Levine, Gail Carson. The wish. When granted her wish to be the most popular girl in school, Wilma, an eighth grader, forgets that she will graduate in three weeks and her popularity will vanish. (NoveList K-8)

Messner, Kate. The seventh wish. In this novel-length riff on “The Fisherman and His Wife,” when Charlie goes ice fishing with pal Drew and his nana, she catches a fish who says it will grant her wishes in return for its release. (Kirkus Reviews)

Myracle, Lauren. Wishing day. Following a town tradition, Natasha makes three wishes at the willow tree on Wishing Day, and after one comes true, she holds out hope that her second wish–that her mother, who disappeared eight years earlier, is alive–will as well. (NoveList K-8)


Applegate, Katherine.  Wishtree. Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, 2017.

Horn Book

by Katherine Applegate; illus. by Charles Santoso
Intermediate, Middle School    Feiwel 216 pp.
9/17    978-1-250-04322-1    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-250-14303-7    $9.99

Applegate’s contemplative novel on the theme of tradition and the necessity for change is narrated by Red, a 216-year-old oak tree that serves as a community’s “wishtree.” “Every year on the first day of May, people come from all over town to adorn me with scraps of paper, bits of fabric, snippets of yarn, and the occasional gym sock. Each offering represents a dream, a desire, a longing.” When an ugly act of Islamophobia (and vandalism of Red) threatens the neighborhood idyll, Red, along with crow buddy Bongo, rallies support—both animal and human—for newcomer Samar’s family. Kind Samar, in turn, helps Red, who’s facing the hatchet. Interspersed chapters provide the backstory of a nineteenth-century foundling and give historical resonance to the theme of community prejudice and acceptance. It’s a stretch to have a protagonist with no actual voice or physical action, but Applegate pulls it off with good-natured aplomb. Intriguing botanical facts are dotted throughout the story (Red is monoecious, having both male and female flowers); how various species name themselves is a resilient running joke. Bongo’s touch of cynicism balances the wise elder’s tendency toward pontificating, and Applegate boldly does an end-run around the fact that Red doesn’t speak to humans. Short chapters and a clear, unadorned writing style invite reading aloud. SARAH ELLIS                                         Reprinted from the November/December 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine with permission from The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com


Wishtree.  (Starred)

Applegate, Katherine (author). Illustrated by Charles Santoso. Sept. 2017. 224p. Feiwel and Friends, hardcover, $16.99 (9781250043221). Grades 4-7. REVIEW. First published July, 2017 (Booklist).

Just a tree, huh? Beloved author and Newbery winner Applegate returns with a moving tale starring, of all things, an oak tree. Red has stood her ground for more than a century, watching over the houses in her neighborhood and befriending the animals that call her hollows home. Each May, her branches are strung with wishes, a tradition stemming from an Irish immigrant who once lived on the property. Red sees all, including an act of hate— the word leave scrawled into her trunk, aimed at new renters, a Muslim family. After so many years of keeping quiet, Red and the animals take action, aiming to connect Samar, a young Muslim girl, with her neighbor Stephen. Meanwhile, Red’s owner considers cutting her down. Short chapters and a slim word count widen the audience of this beautiful tale. In less capable hands, the subject matter could come across as moralizing, but by introducing a charming cast of critters—opossums, birds, squirrels, and so on—Applegate adds levity, humor, and balance. Though the story’s happy ending is predictable, not all is wrapped in a tidy bow. Hate and prejudice still exist in Samar and Stephen’s world, as in our own. Timely, necessary, and brimming with heart. — Jennifer Barnes   Reprinted with Permission of Booklist https://www.booklistonline.com

School Library Journal (June 1, 2017) 

Gr 4-8-Newbery Award-winning author Applegate meets high expectations in this tale told by a tree named Red, a red oak who is “two hundred and sixteen rings old.” Touching on religious bigotry and the environment, Applegate keeps the emphasis on her characters, the many animals and birds who find shelter in the tree’s branches all year round. (All the birds and animals have names and the power to talk, just like Red.) Around the first of May, people write down their wishes on pieces of cloth and hang them from the tree’s branches, giving Red a special place in the community. The pacing starts out slowly, with early chapters focused almost entirely on the natural world, but eventually readers meet the human at the novel’s center. Samar, a recent Muslim refugee, is lonely and in need of a friend. A nameless boy uses the tree to convey hateful messages to Samar and her family. The owner of the tree is tired of roots in the plumbing and hopes all the nastiness will disappear if the tree is cut down, having forgotten the story of her ancestors and the beginning of all the wishes. Red decides to intervene and ask for help from the animals and birds. Even those who shy away from books with talking animals will find this believable fantasy elegant and poignant. Widening the appeal is a sparse word count, making this a great choice for a family or classroom read-aloud and an inviting option for reluctant readers. VERDICT Another stunning effort from Applegate. This thoughtful read is a top choice for middle graders.-Carol A. -Edwards, formerly at Denver Public Library © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal ©2017