FICTION

The Peach Tree Brother

Reycraft. Nov. 2020. 24p. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781478869801; pap. $6.95. ISBN 9781478869795.
COPY ISBN
K-Gr 2–On Chinese New Year’s Eve, Xiaoke and his dad visit the house Xiaoke’s grandparents once lived in, as well as the peach tree growing in the alley. This isn’t just any peach tree for Xiaoke; it represents his “peach tree brother.” On the second day of the next month, Xiaoke and his dad return to the neighborhood for customary haircuts to welcome spring. Terrified of the barber’s scissors, Xiaoke flees the barbershop to find comfort with his peach tree brother. He sees that its surrounding neighborhood is to be demolished, along with the tree. As the crane arrives and begins to tear down homes, Xiaoke acts quickly to save the tree before it’s too late. Set against the backdrop of the traditional Chinese Longtaitou festival, delicate pencil and watercolor illustrations depict Xiaoke’s special bond with his peach tree. The festival is never explicitly named, but the phrase “On the second day of the second month, the dragon raises its head” and the ritual haircuts on this day point to the traditional observances for the Longtaitou festival. The lack of a foreword or back matter may leave some readers with questions. Still, the point of Xiaoke’s action is clear, and the activism will appeal to elementary age audiences.
VERDICT An adequate addition to collections to represent customs for an annual traditional Chinese festival, though background information is needed.

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