Tree of Dreams

336p. Scholastic. Mar. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545800884.
Gr 4–8—Coco's heart used to be full. Lately, though, there has been some damage to her previously fully functioning heart. Damage has come to Coco's left atrium, occupied by El Corazon, the chocolate shop she and her mother run. Ever since a major competitor, Donut Delite, moved in a year ago, business has slowed to a near halt and El Corazon is in danger of closing. And just as bad, her best friend Leo (the occupant of Coco's right atrium) has chosen to abandon her in favor of the seventh-grade royalty. Coco is despondent and angry until one night a tree, a ceiba, visits her in her dreams promising a treasure that could save El Corazon. By divine providence, (or perhaps orchestrated by a wise old friend with his own motives), Leo, Coco, and their mothers win a trip to visit the Amazon, home of the ceiba tree of Coco's dreams. Accompanied by Gali, a grandfatherly figure to both Leo and Coco, the group make their way to the Amazon, each given opportunity to be healed in their own way. This compelling novel is a lovely blend of magical realism and harsh, realistic reminders of environmental and cultural threats to the Amazon and the people who call it home. It presents an opportunity for discussions of activism, deforestation, and what one can do to protect this vital region for the health of our planet.
VERDICT An enchanting novel that raises valuable real-life questions while reminding readers to recognize the magic that connects all life.

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