My Tree

by Hope Lim (Author) Il Sung Na (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

When a young boy's beloved plum tree falls in a storm, he feels like he's lost both a friend and a connection to his old home.

A young boy, recently arrived from Korea, finds a glorious plum tree in his new backyard. It reminds him of a tree his family had back home, and he names it Plumee for the deep purple plums on its branches. Whenever the boy is homesick, he knows he can take shelter in Plumee's tall branches. And when a storm brings the old tree down, he and his friends have all kinds of adventures on its branches, as it becomes a dragon, a treehouse, and a ship in their imaginations. But soon it's time to say goodbye when the remains of the tree are taken away. Before long, a new plum tree is planted, new blossoms bloom, and a new friendship takes root.

A South Korean immigrant herself, Hope Lim brings her perspective on the struggle for child immigrants to feel at home to bear through spare, poetic text, perfectly matched by soft, lyrical illustrations by Korean artist Il Sung Na.

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

Lim and Na’s collaboration has captured the essence of quiet immigrant resilience. Transcending time and place, this gentle book will take root in many hearts. (Picture book. 4-8).

Copyright 2021 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

It's not a person or an animal who comforts Lim's (I Am a Bird) child narrator, who has newly arrived in the United States from Korea. It's a tree outside the new home's back door--one with a graceful trunk and strong branches that are full of plums--that "reminded me of the persimmon tree that shaded our porch in Korea." Named Plumee by the child, the tree offers something in every season: blossoms, shade, fruit, and beauty. And then a storm fells it. "An old tree knows how to lie down when it's time," the child's grandmother back in Korea says, a phrase that helps the child confront loss and gain comfort. Na (That's My Carrot) gives this quiet story heft and drama with bold, crisped-edged forms; saturated hues; and feathery details. The spreads flow into each other, carrying much of the story's emotional weight. Lim, meanwhile, crafts this story with a tree-scale sense of time, paying homage to an arboreal marker of the past and offering hope that stretches out into the future. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Tanusri Prasanna, Foundry Literary + Media. Illustrator's agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (May)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 2--A young South Korean boy, new to America, moves with his parents and dog into a house with a "tall, crooked, quiet" plum tree in the backyard. He names it Plumee, waters it, and grows to love the tree as it is a great place to hide and it offers shade, blossoms, soothing noise in the wind, and delicious purple plums. Through four seasons, Plumee helps stave off the child's homesickness as it reminds him of a tree he knew in his homeland. One night a terrible storm knocks over many trees in the city and Plumee is one of them. The child is sad to lose his close companion but he and the neighborhood kids use their imaginations to turn the fallen tree into a ship, an island, and a rocket until it has to be cut up and removed from the yard. His understanding parents soon plant a young plum tree in the same spot and the child quietly introduces himself to the new occupant. Colorful digital illustrations are filled with small details and reveal the massive tree and the child's love for it. VERDICT This tale of a boy's devotion and regard for the natural world is quietly endearing, and the young protagonist will be a comfort to others who have said goodbye to home.--Maryann H. Owen, Oak Creek P.L., WI

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Empathic vulnerability marks every page of Lim's story . . . Lim and Na's poignantly affecting collaboration is a reassuring homage to resilient adaptation, familial support and unexpectedly nurturing friendships, ensuring My Tree will take root in hearts of all ages."—Shelf Awareness, Starred Review

"Lim's comforting story speaks to the importance of nature in creating a sense of well-being and belonging. . . . Na's digital artwork features a springlike palette, favoring shades of plum, pink, and blue. The full-bleed spreads are richly hued, except for those depicting the boy's imagination, which turn pastel. A good choice for one-on-one sharing or for Earth Day story hours." —Booklist

"Themes of resilience, hope, and vulnerability run through Lim's simple and poetic text. Na's digital illustrations help build empathy. . . . Gentle symbolism employed throughout creates opportunities for discussion of change, connection, and adaptation." —The Horn Book

"The lyrical text of this book would make for an enchanting readaloud, and it pairs well with Na's dreamy digital art with its scratchy textures and off-color palette, depicting the plum tree with gorgeous pink wood and dotting purples and yellows into nature to great effect. While this story is likely to resonate particularly well with immigrant viewers, any kid experiencing big change will relate to the boy reaching out for something familiar."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Hope Lim
Hope Lim is the author of I Am a Bird, illustrated by Hyewon Yum, and My Tree, illustrated by Il Sung Na. Born and raised in South Korea, Hope Lim now lives with her family in San Francisco.

Jaime Kim was born and raised in Korea before moving to the United States at the age of eighteen. She is the author-illustrator of Ready for the Spotlight! and the illustrator of many books for young readers, including La La La: A Story of Hope by Kate DiCamillo. Jaime Kim lives in North Carolina.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
May 20, 2021
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 05/01/21
Junior Library Guild Gold Standard

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