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Children's Fiction Death & Dying

The Sour Cherry Tree

by (author) Naseem Hrab

illustrated by Nahid Kazemi

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
Death & Dying, Multigenerational, Emotions & Feelings, Middle Eastern & Arab American
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 8
  • Grade: 2 to 12


A heartwarming look at love, loss, and memorable objects through the eyes of a child by critically-acclaimed creators Naseem Hrab and Nahid Kazemi

"Deeply evocative ... A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain." — Kirkus Reviews – STARRED REVIEW

After her grandfather’s death, a young girl wanders through his house. As she tours each room, the objects she discovers stir memories of her grandfather—her baba bozorg. His closet full of clothes reminds her of the mints he kept in his pockets. His favorite teacup conjures thoughts of the fig cookies he would offer her. The curtains in the living room bring up memories of hide-and-seek games and the special relationship that she and her baba bozorg shared, even though they spoke different languages.

The Sour Cherry Tree is an authentic look at death and loss centred on the experiences of a child, both strikingly whimsical and matter-of-fact. Drawing on the Iranian-Canadian author’s childhood memories, this tender meditation on grief, love, and memory is at once culturally specific and universally relatable.

About the authors

Naseem Hrab is a writer and storyteller. She is the author of Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend and Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings. Her comedy writing has appeared on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and The Rumpus. Naseem worked as a librarian for a time and now works in children’s publishing. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.


Naseem Hrab's profile page

NAHID KAZEMIis an artist, illustrator and graphic designer with a master’s degree in painting from Tehran’s University of Art. She has published more than sixty children’s books and has received awards for her illustrations in Iran as well as nominations for the Governor General’s Award and the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Her recent publications include I’m Glad That You’re Happy, which she wrote and illustrated, and Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon by JonArno Lawson. She has also taught art and has exhibited her work in Iran, France, Italy, the UK, Lebanon and Serbia. Nahid lives in Montreal.


Nahid Kazemi's profile page


  • Commended, TD Summer Reading Club Top Recommended Read
  • Commended, USBBY Outstanding International Books List
  • Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens starred selection
  • Commended, A White Raven selection
  • Winner, Governor General’s Literary Awards
  • Commended, A Best Children's Book of the Year
  • Commended, A CBC Best Canadian Picture Book of 2021
  • Commended, A Kirkus Best Picture Book of 2021
  • Commended, 100 Favourite Books of 2021
  • Commended, 150 Most Anticipated Fall Books
  • Commended, Favourite Books of 2021

Editorial Reviews

"A universally relatable story that articulates a difficult concept for younger audiences, with a heartfelt message about loss and the memories of loved ones."


"The Sour Cherry Tree lives on beyond the page. From the expanse of grief to a message of hope, it embodies what the young girl perhaps most loved about her grandfather: that he loved her."

Quill & Quire - STARRED REVIEW

"In Ms. Kazemi’s soft, cloudy pictures picked out with tiny details, the girl moves through the rooms of Baba Borzog’s house looking at his things ... In memory, she sees him as he was, with his wry, twinkling eyes under bushy brows and his determination always to wave goodbye until his family was out of sight."

The Wall Street Journal

"A lovely addition to the canon of children’s picture books that deal with the death of a grandparent."

Canadian Review of Materials

"A portrait of a beloved grandfather who kept mints in his pockets, liked fig cookies, and 'spoke Farsi loudly but English quietly.'"

Publishers Weekly

"Deeply evocative ... A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain."

Kirkus Reviews – STARRED REVIEW

"Kazemi’s illustrations have a soft, filmy quality that suits a story about memories ... The first-person narration, filled with childlike details and tender emotions, reinforces the equally childlike perspective of the delicate art."

The Horn Book

"This book gives voice to the hidden aspects of grief, the small token, the remembered word or gesture that defines memories. It’s an essential guide to mourning, in its earliest stages, for the young."

School Library Journal - STARRED REVIEW

"The story takes a gentle look at loss and allows the narrator to speak freely about all she loved about her many visits with her grandfather."

Sal's Fiction Addiction

"[The Sour Cherry Tree] might help children and their parents to find some comfort in what's left behind."


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Other titles by Nahid Kazemi

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