The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank’s Window by Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrated by Peter McCarty
This is a gentle picture book, beautifully and tenderly written, that tells the story of Anne Frank through the perspective of the horse chestnut tree in the courtyard outside the window of the annex where the Frank family hid during World War II. The book is illustrated with muted brown ink on watercolor paper which also conveys a gentle mood. The book is appropriate for introducing Anne Frank’s story to young children. The horrors of the Holocaust are not discussed, only that Anne and the others in hiding except Mr. Frank died in the war. The fate of the horse chestnut tree is explained at the end of the book. It is interesting to learn that though the tree died in 2010 (at age 172), efforts were made to save the tree in the years before its demise, including collecting seed pods. When the tree did die, saplings and seedpods from the tree were planted around the world, including in the United States, at the site of the fallen World Trade Center and other locations. I think this is a beautiful gesture and a hopeful way for parents and teachers to conclude when sharing such a sad story with children.