The Book Tree

When young Arlo accidentally drops a book on the Mayor's head, the Mayor decides books are dangerous and destroys all the books in town! But thanks to Arlo's imagination and perserverance, the Mayor finds that suppressing stories cannot stop them from blossoming more beautifully than ever. This timely allegorical tale will be a useful tool for starting conversations with children about activism and the power of the written word. Download the press release > >

AGES 4 – 9  |  32PP  |  8.5 x 10.75 IN

HARDCOVER | 9781782854050 | $17.99 USD

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Celebrates the activist power of the written word and story-making while proclaiming the ability of just one child to make a difference in the world.


Honored by 50 awards worldwide, a six-time winner of the Bologna Book Fair, and illustrator of over 65 books, Rashin Kheiriyeh uses her unique vision to create a visually arresting tale.


Arlo's refusal to accept the Mayor's proclamation encourages children to think for themselves and fosters a positive attitude toward reading and books.


Paul Czajak struggled with reading and writing as a child, and never thought he'd end up writing books. But after working as a scientist for 20 years, he discovered that his creativity could no longer be contained to the laboratory. Now he hopes his books will be the seeds to a new generation of book gardeners! Paul lives in New Jersey, USA.


Rashin Kheiriyeh is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning illustrator, author, animation director and painter who has more than 70 children's books published around the world. Born in Iran, she is now a professor at the University of Maryland College Park and lives in Washington, Dc, USA.

Kirkus logo   "This story’s optimistic view of creativity and resistance is fairly irresistible."
Kirkus Reviews
   "This delicious and subversive little parable of a book, with its lyrical text and anarchic pictures, is just what we need in today's world"
Jane Yolen, award-winning children's author
  "A timely allegory, an ode to activists and a hymn to the power of story. Multi-award-winning illustrator Rashin Kheiriyeh paints up a storm to bring this lovely tale to life"
Children's Books Ireland, Inis Reading Guide 2018-2019
Publishers Weekly Logo  "...shines a light on the importance of the written word, creativity, and the idea that even censorship cannot stop ideas from growing and blooming...a beautiful book with a beautiful message"
Emily Golightly, ESL Educator, President of the Crystal Coast Reading Council
  "A lovely work of art from the embossed title on the cover to the beautiful book-filled endpapers. The mixed media illustrations are stunning and the words are gentle and flowing-all resulting in a comfortable folktale-for-the-ages style. And the message is of course perfect, because really, where would we be without books?"
— Marcia Strykowski, children's book author and librarian
  "This book is gorgeous...I think that it will be welcome in all libraries. It would be especially fun to read during Banned Books Week in September."
Lispy Librarian
  "Paul Czajak has given a short and simple example of how very important books are. . . Kheiriyeh's collage-style illustrations are wonderful visually and texturally. A definite must for school libraries!"
— Sarah Overvaag, librarian
  "Creative and original, The Book Tree is a story about the power of books and stories. The illustrations are fresh and colorful, making this a picture book children and parents will enjoy!"
— Bookmarks

"Talk about a timely story. With an autocrat who's afraid of books ("Books are dangerous! I don't trust them. They act like seeds, which grow into ideas, and ideas turn into questions.") and tries to control the flow of knowledge, reading becomes the ultimate act of resistance. . . The Book Tree eloquently captures society today, making it a cautionary tale as much as it's an inspirational one. . . Add this one to your activist collections, and make sure to stick this one on your Banned Books Week storytime for next year."
— Rosemary Kiladitis (@roesolo), children's librarian


"As a justice-minded teacher, I value Barefoot Books' thoughtful and direct resources in helping me shape my students into active young people, conscientious about the world they live in. The Book Tree focuses on censorship, a concept which is often difficult for young people to understand, and brings it into manageable terms they can relate to in the classroom. Bravo!" 
— Alex Moore, classroom teacher, Community School of Roanoke, VA


"What a great way to talk with children about censorship. The Book Tree covers a tough topic in a whimsical way that promotes the idea of creativity and imagination. This book is a great introduction to story writing, ideation and sticking to your guns. I would love to have a copy of this in every single classroom of my school!"
— Erin Carey, Preschool Head of Learning and Innovation at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School


"Such a creative and inspiring book! It encourages students to keep doing what they love and are passionate about, even if others say it is 'wrong.'  The illustrations are lovely as well. I am sure The Book Tree will be a book my students come back to again and again!"
— Alyssa Leach, junior kindergarten teacher; Pui Tak Christian School, Chicago


"The illustrations in this book alone are enough reason to buy it. The use of mixed media is simply gorgeous!"
— Delia Bingea, fourth grade teacher; Community of Peace Academy, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota


"The Book Tree is a pioneer in children's literature. It sends a message that kids should hear with illustration and prose that make the topic real to children, yet imaginative and fun at the same time"
— Lynn Wakahiro, Momilani Elementary School, Pearl City, HI


"Activism and reading — what could be more timely? With its depiction of  a child can make a difference, The Book Tree bundles well with Marley Dias' new book. A great pairing in my 4th grade classroom"
— Janet Godfrey, fourth grade classroom teacher, WoodCreek Elementary School, Katy, TX


"What a fabulous book to celebrate banned books and standing up for what you believe in! In this day and time, it is important for our children to know that they can change the world  and this book shows them that they can"
— Erin Duff, Library Instructional Assistant, Dayton Independent School District, Dayton, TX


"A wonderful story about why books matter. . . Now more than ever, [The Book Tree] is a great reminder of the power of books as agents for propagating ideas. Great for story time to encourage young readers to take up reading!"  
— Andrienne Cruz, MLIS, Azusa Public Library, American Library Association Member

Reading Style Guide logo  "[The] illustrations underscore the universality of stories."
Reading Style Guide
The Dog Eared Book Logo  "I loved this clever book with great illustrations and a message that both adults and children should read and learn!"
— The Dog Eared Book
  "Children can make a positive impact on their community as shown in this book. In showing the power of books and the written word, it reminds us that communities and people are multi-dimensional and can influence all aspect of life around us, even a child."
— TDS Library
  "". . . such a perfect book to read to children during Banned Book Week and throughout the year. There were so many wonderful phrases and the concept of book trees growing like real trees, creating flowers and pollen that floats through the air, is such a marvelous metaphor for what books can do. A powerful tribute to the power of books."
— Michelle Goetzl (@booksmykidsread),
  "[P]owerful and creative. . . The Mayor losing himself in a book is just the happy ending this book needs. The metaphor of a book as a seed expresses exactly what all librarians and teachers strive for their students to understand. Bravo, Paul Czajak and Rashin Kheiriyeh!"
— Kimberly Reber, Media Specialist & Enrichment Teacher, Knowlton Township Elementary School

Want to learn more, or interested in press or partnership opportunities? Download the press release, request a digital review copy on Edelweiss, or fill out the form below to request an advanced reader copy.

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Change children's lives through the power of stories!

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