Today is the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the holiday of the trees.
Trees have always felt like miracles to me. The way they grow tall and strong. The way their flowers bloom and their leaves change. The way fruit forms on their branches. The way they come to life again and burst into vibrant color every spring.
Of all trees, I have my favorites.
They are the cherry trees in the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC
These special trees were a gift from the government of Japan in 1912. There are currently about 4,000 trees and I am not their only fan. Usually more than a million people visit the blossoms every year. There is the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a parade, a kite festival, and so much more. There is even a cherry blossom cam! It is an enormous celebration.
These beautiful, glorious trees were one of the main reasons I wanted to locate my book The Passover Guest in Washington DC. My editor and I had decided to set the book during the Great Depression, and as it turned out, in the year 1933 the peak bloom of the cherry blossoms coincided with the first night of Passover. What better way to celebrate spring than with the beauty of these glorious trees.
There are a few special books I use every Tu B’Shevat that I’d love to recommend to you:
Happy Birthday, Tree! A Tu’Shevat Story by Madelyn Rosenberg, illustrated by Jana Christy, published by Albert Whitman.
Netta and Her Plant by Ellie Gellman, illustrated by Natascia Ugliano, published by Kar-Ben.
Maple written and illustrated by Lori Nichols, published by Penguin. (Not Tu’Bshevat specific but one of my favorite tree books.)
And speaking of trees and miracles, I am very excited about a forthcoming book, This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth. It is written and illustrated by Sean Rubin, the illustrator of The Passover Guest and is being published May 4 from Henry Holt. A truly beautiful book.
Wishing you a spring of miracles and trees.