The Sakura Tree

The Sakura Tree
Written by Carolyn McTighe
Illustrated by Karen Brownlee
Juvenile Fiction / Historical / Canada / Post-Confederation • Juvenile Fiction / People & Places / Asia
32 Pages • 10 1/4 X 9 1/4"
ISBN 0-88995-354-6 cloth
CDN 19.95 • USA 17.95
release date April 2007

Ranked by the Canadian Children's Book Centre as a "Best Book for Kids and Teens 2008"

"Finalist for the 2008 Alberta Book Publishing, Children's Book Award"

This gently eloquent tale follows the progress of three so-called “picture brides” who immigrate to Canada in the early twentieth century, three girls sent away by a father who wishes for them a more prosperous life than he can provide in their hometown of Sendai, Japan. Reluctant as they are to leave home, the sisters are nonetheless obedient to their father’s wishes. Each takes with her one item that will remind her of their home. One brings a kimono, another a violin, but the youngest, Haruko, brings three seeds of the sakura tree. The sisters arrive on the shores of British Columbia, where their husbands await. Each joins the husband to whom she has been promised, and each has her own way of remembering the family and the country she has left behind. Haruko plants the sakura seeds, which grow into a resplendent tree. One spring, the blossoms swirl away in the wind, and are carried to the doorsteps of the two other sisters. The blossoms remind the sisters of Haruko and their Japanese home. Following the trail of the blossoms, they find Haruko’s home and the three are reunited under the sakura trees. This is a compelling story about the meaning of family and home, and an exploration of Japanese culture in Canada.

Karen Brownlee is an Alberta artist who specializes in exploring vanishing cultures, and her delicate watercolours are a perfect counterpoint to the poetic text of newcomer Carolyn McTighe, a radio and print journalist living in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Carolyn McTighe is a freelance writer who has written for CBC Radio, as well as the Los Angeles Times. She currently resides in Kamloops, British Columbia, with her husband and three small children.

A full-time artist, Karen Brownlee focuses on rural Alberta communities and grain elevators, but is also highly proficient in Chinese brush painting techniques. Karen Brownlee has been a juror for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Alberta recipient of the Davis and Henderson Intercheques Prairie Heritage Preservation Award.


"Artist Facilitation of The Sakura Tree and Concrete Theatre Company"

Commencing in July 2006, Karen worked with Concrete Theatre Company to facilitate Concrete Theatre producing a staged adaptation of The Sakura Tree. The staged reading was presented twice on the Father's Day Weekend (June 16, 2007) at the Stanley Milner Public Library in downtown Edmonton. Several of Karen's original watercolours were exhibited in the lobby of the Library; with a book launch and signing by the Artist.

Concrete Theatre is an Edmonton based company of artists that works in the community using theatre to promote cultural diversity and to examine social issues."

For more information contact Karen Brownlee at

All images and copyrights reserved by the Artist