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The Olive Tree
“The Olive Tree” — details, sample pages, more
Olive Tree, The
Olive Tree, The
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Children’s Books

Price:  $16.95

ISBN:  978-1-937786-29-8
Book Size:  8" × 10"
# of Pages:  32
Language:  English



Description of “The Olive Tree”
The house next door to Sameer’s had been empty for as long as he could remember. The family had gone away when the war began. But now they were back, and he was ready to have fun with his new playmate. Together they could climb the big olive tree that overlooked both their gardens, and eat the delicious olives it produced. The only problem was that Muna, the little girl next door, didn’t want to play and she didn’t want to share the olives. She said they belonged to her family alone—that is, until one fateful night…

Poignantly told by award-winning author Elsa Marston and with beautiful paintings from award-winning illustrator Claire Ewart, The Olive Tree follows two children as they learn to share and work together by looking past their differences. It shows young readers that compassion and understanding lie at the heart of all friendships.

AWARDS
  • Silver Medal in the “Illustration – Graphic” category of the 2014 Midwest Book Awards
  • Award-Winning Finalist in the “Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction” category of the 2015 USA “Best Book” Awards
  • Finalist in the category “Interior Design: 3 or more Color (Children’s/YA)” of the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Awards
  • Nominated for a Cybils Picture Book Award
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Details on “The Olive Tree”

The house next door to Sameer’s had been empty for as long as he could remember. The family had gone away when the war began. But now they were back, and he was ready to have fun with his new playmate. Together they could climb the big olive tree that overlooked both their gardens, and eat the delicious olives it produced. The only problem was that Muna, the little girl next door, didn’t want to play and she didn’t want to share the olives. She said they belonged to her family alone—that is, until one fateful night…

Poignantly told by award-winning author Elsa Marston and with beautiful paintings from award-winning illustrator Claire Ewart, The Olive Tree follows two children as they learn to share and work together by looking past their differences. It shows young readers that compassion and understanding lie at the heart of all friendships.

AWARDS
  • Silver Medal in the “Illustration – Graphic” category of the 2014 Midwest Book Awards
  • Award-Winning Finalist in the “Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction” category of the 2015 USA “Best Book” Awards
  • Finalist in the category “Interior Design: 3 or more Color (Children’s/YA)” of the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Awards
  • Nominated for a Cybils Picture Book Award


The Author and Illustrator of this Book

Elsa Marston

Elsa Marston is an award-winning author of over 20 teen and children’s books, specializing in the Middle East and North Africa, ancient and modern. She has a master’s degree in international affairs from Harvard University with further study at the American University of Beirut, and has lived in Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia with her husband, the late Professor Iliya Harik of Indiana University. In addition to her books with Wisdom Tales (The Compassionate Warrior and, forthcoming, The Olive Tree), her recent work includes Santa Claus in Baghdad and Other Stories About Teens in the Arab World, Women in the Middle East: Tradition and Change, The Byzantine Empire, and Muhammad of Mecca, a historical biography. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

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Claire Ewart

Claire Ewart is a well known illustrator and author of books for children. She has illustrated books for famous authors such as Paul Fleischman (Time Train) and Tomie dePaola (The Legend of the Persian Carpet), who said of her abilities as an illustrator, “No author could ask for a more talented interpreter.” Ms. Ewart has also written and illustrated several books of her own, including One Cold Night, The Giant, and Fossil. Her rich and detailed watercolor illustrations are not only a visual treat, but, just as important, each one captures the essence of the story.

World Wisdom welcomes Claire Ewart to our list of illustrators for the Wisdom Tales Press (our children’s book imprint) book The Olive Tree, written by Elsa Marston and illustrated by Ms. Ewart. The Olive Tree is a moving story of two children from a country recovering from a war. The children are different in many ways but both share an attachment to an old olive tree growing across both of their yards.

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Reviews of “The Olive Tree”

“K-Gr 3– This story, set in the contemporary Middle East, is about two neighbors and the ancient olive tree that stands between them… The style of writing is simple, direct, and accessible. Large watercolor paintings vary in viewpoint from one family’s side of the wall to the other.…”
School Library Journal, from a review by Toby Rajput



“A stone wall divides two houses owned by families with children; a gnarled olive tree grows on Muna’s land, and the olives drop on Sameer’s land. Although Muna’s family, gone ‘during the troubles, because they were different from most of the people in the village,’ has returned home, they maintain a polite distance, disappointing Sameer’s hopes for a friend. The children engage only to disagree over who the olives belong to. After their fight, ‘the olives went on dropping in Sameer’s yard … but nobody ever gathered them.’ Ewart’s (One Cold Night) watercolor illustrations deftly employ color to signal the story’s emotional developments. For example, warm hues of gold and green permeate the opening pages; in a center spread, a billowing blue storm washes over the small green village, with jagged lightning striking and killing the olive tree. In the final pages, a dusky purple backdrop and broken golden boughs convey a somber yet promising mood. Marston (The Compassionate Warrior: Abd el-Kader of Algeria) subtly transforms the story’s sadness into hope as the children surprise each other with acts of quiet generosity. Ages 5–up.”
Publishers Weekly



“The high yield of an olive tree on one side of the fence—but with branches reaching over to the other—precipitates a neighborhood feud about who actually owns the precious fruit. Shades of brown, green, and orange evoke the Lebanese countryside in this story of community efforts and treating others as you would like to be treated—much the same as one child extends an olive branch as a peace offering to another at the conclusion of the finely wrought tale.”
ForeWord Reviews



“…Marston’s understated text aptly captures the children’s feelings and their uneasy relationship… [It is a] story that shows how perceived prejudice can be just as destructive as actual hatred. (Picture book. 5-8)”
Kirkus Reviews



“Sometimes a quiet story can achieve feats that rousing tales can’t. The Olive Tree, a simple yet subtle story set in contemporary Lebanon, offers no details or explanation of the 1975 Lebanese Civil War, but invites us to consider the lingering distrust among people and possible paths to reconciliation. . . .

“Ms. Ewart’s atmospheric, two-page spreads of naturalistic watercolor paintings flesh out the poignant story with realistic details. The mothers of both families wear the hijab; a goat, a donkey, and chickens populate the yards; and chairs have seats of woven bulrush. With its understated story of conflict resolution, The Olive Tree offers adults a valuable opportunity to discuss with children the importance of respect for all.”
New York Journal of Books (online), from a review by Janice Floyd Durante



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