It was so wonderful to see Mitali Perkins back at Newtonville Books for her latest book, Bare Tree and Little Wind: A Story for Holy Week. She raised her two boys in Newton but relocated to the Bay Area about five or so years ago.
Bare Tree and Little Wind: A Story for Holy Week by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Khoa Le
Mitali Perkins tells the story of Palm Sunday and Easter through the eyes of Bare Tree and Little Wind, who have been around a long time. Her picture book invites discussion on why God, who loves all creatures large and small, lets bad and sad things happen to them.
“Little Wind and the trees of Jerusalem can’t wait for Real King to visit. But Little Wind is puzzled when the king doesn’t look how he expected. His wise friend Bare Tree helps him learn that sometimes strength is found in sacrifice, and new life can spring up even when all hope seems lost.
This story stands apart for its imagination, endearing characters, and how it weaves Old Testament imagery into Holy Week and the promise of Jesus’s triumphant return. While the youngest readers will connect to the curious Little Wind, older children and parents will appreciate the layers of meaning and Scriptural references in the story, making it a book families can enjoy together year after year.” [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Fifteen years ago, Mitali came to my house. I hosted a book club for my oldest, then in third grade. I wasn’t blogging back then. We had read Rickshaw Girl — it was on the Massachusetts summer reading list — and I noticed the author lived in Newton also. I sent an email to her author email box and she wrote back, saying that she would come! It was so exciting that another book club in my daughter’s class, boys wanted to come. Everyone loved meeting her and learning about her book journey.
She said that she had written Rickshaw Girl as a picture book; or that she tried to write it as a picture book, but it came out as a chapter book. She sent it to Charlesbridge Publishing (which does not require a literary agent) and she was offered a contract. She thought that this would be the beginning of her author career, but then it took FOURTEEN years before her next book was published.
I heard other authors of color who said that they had a fourteen dry spell of writing before being published, and then going on to great success. I honestly think that it is a reflection of how children’s book publishing 20 years ago simply did not embrace diverse books.
Mitali wrote and wrote during her dry spell, and now, twenty plus years later, she has published more than twenty books, including You Bring the Distant Near which made the National Book Award shortlist. Rickshaw Girl was recently made into a movie!
This was the first author event that Newtonville Books has hosted since Covid. It was held outside, in the little courtyard, in front of the store. Mitali brought the California weather to us, and it was a beautiful, sunny day. There was even a slight breeze, all the more fitting for her Palm Sunday and Easter story.
She tells the backstory to Bare Tree and Little Wind here:
She reads Bare Tree and Little Wind here:
What are your favorite books for Easter? Thanks for sharing! Happy Easter to those who celebrate!
p.s. Related posts:
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.