Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 327

Picture Book: I Have an Olive Tree

Author: Eve Bunting

Illustrator: Karen Barbour

Summary: Sophia, age 7, is puzzled that her grandfather has given her an olive tree for her birthday. Even more puzzling, the tree is on an island in Greece, where the family lived before coming to California. Her grandfather explains that those who purchased their house let them keep the tree as a symbol of their family’s rootedness to Greece. When Sophia’s grandfather dies, he gives Sophia her grandmother’s string of pearls and asks her to go to Greece and hang the pearls on the olive tree. Upon arrival, they are dazzled by the strangeness of Greece as they wait for the ferry to take them to the island. As they approach the family home and tree, Sophia begins to have strange feelings. The tree was not as Sophia imagined, but it moves her emotionally. She pulls the pearls out of her backpack and her mother lifts her up so that she can hang the beads on a high branch. Sophia realizes that the trip is not just about the beads. It is also about her mother’s memories and Sophia gaining an understanding of her roots. As Sophia considers coming back someday, she says, ”I have an olive tree.”

Hanna’s Comments: This is a rich story of family heritage and origin. Because our Holy Scriptures are often about these same themes, you should have no problem connecting this story to a variety of religious topics such as memory, the power of place, altars, reverence, family bonds, or inheritance. Besides connections to scripture, tie this story and a scripture to an aspect or person in your local family of faith as well. Creating strong connections to the people and place where you worship is invaluable and important for the future of your spiritual community. Another direction you could take is to consider the spiritual symbolism of trees in general. 

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up 

# of Pages: 32 

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Audio Cassette

PBT Category:  Pre 2K

PBT Topics this Book connects with: acceptance, action, adventure, ancestors/patriarchs & matriarchs, babies/children, belonging, birth/birthday, bonds/connections, change, death/loss/grief, Europe, exile/separation/walls, family, fruit/fruit of the spirit, grandparents, heritage, home, identity/names, journeys/migrations/pilgrimages/quests, land/mountains/soil, love, memories/remembering/ritual/tradition, reverence, self-discovery, travel, worship

Scripture Connections: I am like a green olive tree in the house of God, I trust in the steadfast love of God (Psalm 52:8); your children will be like olive shoots around you (Psalm 128:3b); a good person leaves an inheritance (Proverbs 13:22); the word of God’s grace is able to give you your inheritance (Acts 20:32); so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you may be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17); rooted and built up in him and established in the faith (Colossians 2:7); work heartily as for the Lord, knowing that you will receive the inheritance as your reward (Colossians 3:23)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children or teens who are learning about their religious or spiritual heritage or origins. 

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