The Red Tree

English language

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5 stars (2 reviews)

The Red Tree (2001), written and illustrated by Shaun Tan, is a picture book that presents a fragmented journey through a dark world. The text is sparse and the illustrations are dark and surreal. The story is based on images inspired by the experience of depression. The main character is a lonely red-headed girl who goes about her day feeling alienated, despondent, and lonely. The illustrations depict her in various abstract situations that metaphorically depict her feelings. Almost unnoticed in each picture is a small red leaf (symbolising hope). At the end, the little girl stands smiling at a beautiful red-leafed tree growing in her bedroom. This book is one of many picture books by Tan, who also addresses issues such as immigration and cultural differences.

2 editions