The Very Oldest Pear Tree

Albert Whitman. Aug. 2020. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807566817.
K-Gr 3–Sanders presents the story of the first pear tree planted in America. In 1630, the sapling crossed the Atlantic Ocean with white colonizers who were sailing to present-day Massachusetts. More than 350 years later, the tree still stands, growing and bearing fruit. From its early days as a young tree in Governor Endecott’s garden to growing quietly behind a factory in the 1950s, this pear tree has impressed and inspired presidents and poets, and its story is still being written today. The illustrations are charming and the text is pleasantly readable, but the total absence of any mention of Native American tribes or their relationship to the colonizers of Massachusetts is distracting. In a book about the land and the origins of America, the absence of Indigenous voices and perspectives supports a one-sided narrative of early America without the full scope of its legacy of colonialism. The author’s note briefly mentions the Indigenous community but does not focus on their lack of inclusion in the text: “While the Endicott pear tree is certainly not the first tree planted in North America—Native Americans and European settlers had planted trees before—the Endicott tree is significant for having such a long recorded history.” Further reading lists two websites.
VERDICT A charmingly illustrated but light addition for public libraries; best presented with additional resources for historical context.

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