The Red Tree is a beautifully melancholy picture book. Like the best children’s literature, it’s incredible at any age and, in many ways, this book probably hits you harder when you are older.
It’s a book about depression, sadness, and feeling alone in the world with that feeling. But it’s also about hope.
Shaun Tan’s artwork is stunning, the kind that you would happily frame and put on your wall. But what I love most about him is the way he is able to evoke so much emotion with no, or very few, words. You create the story not just from the pictures themselves, but also the rush of feeling it’s showing you.
I think it jumps to the ending a little too quickly, and could have done with having another page or two in between. But maybe that’s the point – hope comes a long when you least expect it.
Although the only other book of his I’ve read is The Arrival, his novel-length picture book (check out my review here), Shaun Tan is easily my favourite illustrator. Read his books and fall in love with him too.