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Challenge: Back to School 2021

A New Addition To Your Summer Reading List

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The “Water Tree Way” book begins with a beautiful foreword by Dr. Jane Goodall. The author, Ruth Mendelson, and Dr. Goodall have been friends for many years. Mendelson is a renowned film composer and the first woman at Berklee College of Music to teach in the Film Scoring Department. She and Dr. Goodall met in 2002 at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland whilst Mendelson was performing at the opening of the international peace summit. They became good friends and have collaborated on many projects over the years. Dr. Goodall writes, “The overriding message concerns the resilience of the human spirit, the importance of understanding how all life is interconnected. The importance of not always taking things at face value.”The book includes timeless lessons that we all can take to heart. .

A Bit Of Backstory About The Story

aadd282a387cd88e22ebeb06b7de424a6aaf7806.pngThe heroine of the book, Jai (pronounced Jay), is a free-spirited 10-year-old girl filled with spunk, an unwavering sense of adventure, brash courage, and the most accurate fast-pitch of anyone in her school. Guided by a magical Water Tree Leaf, Jai is catapulted on an adventure where she discovers a world of fantastical and unlikely characters from both the natural and supernatural worlds. Despite her valiant effort to follow The Rules, Jai discovers that some of life’s most profound lessons come from outlandish dreams and dazzling blunders. In fact, this is a story about the triumph of the human spirit. The book invites all of us to delve into the most magnificent, mysterious, and necessary of places: inside our very own selves.

The Challenges We Can’t Avoid
The story opens with an intro to 10-year-old Jai, her name means ‘Victory’ and is absolutely well-suited for her character. Her mother was a civilian casualty of war when Jai was very young and she has always had a difficult time understanding, “Jai didn’t really know what it meant to be in a war, or why there were ever any wars in the first place. She only knew that her mom had been killed in one. Whenever she asked her father about it, he would always say the same thing. ‘She just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time honey.” Those words, or words with a similar sentiment, have likely been uttered by many over the years, and by Ukrainian families over the past months. This book could be considered exceptionally relevant in our present circumstances.

Though Jai loves and relies on her father, throughout the book her mother is always ‘with’ her, guiding her along the way in her dreams. She gives Jai the inspiration and encouragement to seek out a mythical journey, a challenge set forth by the Water Trees themselves. Through this grand adventure Jai is tested time and time again and learns invaluable life lessons with each test. The resounding messages of patience, perseverance, conviction and love are evident throughout the narrative–a moral thread that Mendelson has expertly woven into her story and rings true for all ages. “The world is rarely fair, dear.... But most important is that you stay centered and never return a mistake with a mistake. Remember this, dear one. Remember when the world has forgotten.”

This book deals with so much of what ails our planet today and is an extraordinary read for any child, or adult, that is grappling with that reality. Dr. Goodall ends her foreword by saying, “Remember that every day each one of us makes a difference on our planet and we can choose what sort of difference we make. In today’s world, more than ever, we need people who make honest and ethical choices. We need you.”

Great Adventures Never End
The Water Tree Way does an excellent job of placing emphasis on making ethical choices, knowing that the choices we make today affect our future as well as the future of others. It reminds us that we always have a choice. Through changes and adversity we all have a choice to persevere and write our own adventure, an amazing admonition at any age. In the end Jai reflects on her adventure, “Every ending is a new beginning, like flowing water in a stream. It might look the same, but the water is constantly changing. It’s never the same water twice. And so it is, that great adventures never really end. There are always new ones waiting to be explored, every day.”

If you choose to pick up this book, please comment below with your review!

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