Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Children's Fiction Emigration & Immigration

Naomi's Tree

by (author) Joy Kogawa

illustrated by Ruth Ohi

Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Initial publish date
Apr 2008
Emigration & Immigration, Visionary & Metaphysical, Multigenerational, Asia
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2011
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2008
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 11
  • Grade: 3
  • Reading age: 6 to 9


On the Guelph Mercury's 10 best Children's Books of 2008 list

Golden Oak nominee, 2009

On Resource Link's "Best of 2008" List

CLA Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award shortlist, 2009

Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice, 2009

A young couple leaves Japan for the coast of Canada, bringing a cherry seed to plant in their new garden. During the years that follow, the little cherry tree watches over the family as the couple have children, and then grandchildren. Young Naomi makes the cherry tree her special friend, and the tree's branches shelter her as she plays. But one day, war breaks out between the two countries, and the family is sent to an internment camp away from the coast. And though Naomi often dreams of going home, the dream fades as the years go by. The little tree is left behind to mourn its loss.

For many years the cherry tree sends out a song of love and peace that reaches Naomi only in her dreams. But the insects and small animals hear the song, and on the wind they send back their own messages to the tree, assuring it that Naomi is safe and that one day she will return. And when she does, the tree will be waiting for her.

Based on the World War II story of Naomi and Stephen in Naomi's Road, Naomi's Tree is a poetic story about enduring love and its almost mystical power to heal the spirit.

About the authors

Joy Kogawa, one of North America’s most celebrated writers, is the award-winning author of three novels, seven collections of poetry and two books for children. Obasan, which the New York Times called “a tour de force…brilliantly poetic in its sensibility,” continues to be taught across North America, and the opera based on her children’s book Naomi’s Road has toured in Canada and the United States. Kogawa has worked to educate Canadians about the history of Japanese Canadians and is a long-time activist in the areas of peace and reconciliation. In 2010, the Japanese government honoured her with the Order of the Rising Sun. Her latest book is Gently to Nagasaki.

Joy Kogawa's profile page



Ruth Ohi a illustré plus de 50 livres pour enfants et est l'auteure de certains d'entre eux. Ses livres, traduits en plusieurs langues, se vendent à travers le monde et ont figuré sur la liste de plusieurs prix littéraires prestigieux. Elle vit avec sa famille à Toronto.


RUTH OHI has illustrated more than fifty children’s books — several of which she has also written, including Fox and Squirrel, Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend, Shh! My Brother’s Napping, and Scribble. Her books have been nominated for many prestigious awards, including the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, Mr. Christie’s Award, Chocolate Lily, Shining Willow, Blue Spruce and the Governor General’s Award. She lives with her family, and many backyard squirrels, in Toronto, Ontario. Visit her online at

Ruth Ohi's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"The book's text and illustrations contain both beauty and grace.


-- CM Magazine

"Naomi's Tree tells a heart-wrenching, but ultimately heart-warming story of loss and healing."
-- International Examiner

"This is a beautiful testament to friendship, and the healing power of nature. Combined with Ohi's lush pencil and watercolour illustrations - especially those of the tree in bloom - Naomi's Tree is a solid pick for all school-age picture book collections."
-- Resource Links

"Ohi outdoes herself with her compelling artworks. Just as our own backyard cherry trees are now setting their fruit, with harvest in perhaps a month, reading the tale of Naomi's tree is also a fruitful journey. It begins sweetly, turns sour, and is ultimately as sweet as can be."
-- The Hamilton Spectator

"Kogawa's story is really about the power of love and how time can bring about reconciliation and new hope. Ruth Ohi's artwork in coloured pencil is suitably sensitive and delicate."
-- Winnipeg Free Press

Review of Naomi's Tree and Naomi's Road
"The story of Naomi as told in these two books is a great way to introduce children to the history of Japanese Canadians. Both books are illustrated with delicately wrought images by Ruth Ohi. Naomi's Tree, in particular, carries the motif of the cherry tree and blossoms throughout the story in a subtle but reinforcing manner. Both books symbolically contain images of the older Naomi encountering the cherry tree late in her life. Fraught and difficult as life was for Naomi, she is given great strength and courage in the gifts of love she receives from her family despite the absence of her mother. She learns to battle the inherent racism of the time with patience and understanding."

Librarian Reviews

Naomi’s Tree

Japanese newlyweds immigrate to Canada, bringing a cherry seed to plant in their new garden. But one day, war breaks out between Canada and Japan, and the family is sent away. Now what will become of their beloved home and the tree that longs for their return?

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2009.

Other titles by Joy Kogawa

Other titles by Ruth Ohi