Jump to Content

Mr. Zuta and the Apple Tree

This is a classic tale for nursery-school children, encouraging their creative imagination and awareness of their environment, of nature, diligence and the relations between people and their natural surroundings. Mr. Zuta is an elf who lives, like all elves, in a beautiful mushroom house. Mr. Zuta envies his neighbors, Mr. Ketina and Mr. Zeira, who have attractive, well-kept gardens. Mr. Ketina cultivates beautiful, fragrant flowers, and Mr. Zeira grows delicious vegetables. And what grows in Mr. Zuta’s garden? A neglected old apple tree, dry and ugly, which bears shrivelled, sour apples.

“I am so unlucky,” moans Mr. Zuta. “Unlucky?” his neighbors repeat in wonder. “A well-kept garden is not a matter of luck.” A garden needs to be tended every day, you have to plant, water, fertilize, rake and weed. Mr. Zuta would like to have such a garden, and asks his neighbors what he should plant. “Flowers,” advises Mr. Ketina. “Flowers are pretty.” “Plant vegetables,” says Mr. Zeira. “Vegetables are useful.” Mr. Zuta decides to grow both flowers and vegetables, but first he must uproot the useless tree. He speaks to the tree, first politely and then angrily, but the tree refuses to budge. So Mr. Zuta raises a big axe, but the axe breaks in two, and the tree remains standing. The elf gives up and plants his new seedlings around the tree.

Before long, the tree begins to change: it straightens up, sprouts fresh leaves and bears shiny red apples. At first Mr. Zuta doesn’t notice the change, but his neighbors point out that now he has an apple tree which is both pretty and useful. “Has someone changed my old tree for a new one?” Mr. Zuta asks, amazed. The readers supply the answer. (Zuta, Ketina and Zeira all mean small or tiny.)

Title Mr. Zuta and the Apple Tree
Writer's Last Name Raz
Writer's First Name Orit
Genre Children
Ages 2-5
Illustrations Ora Ayal
Publisher (Hebrew) Sifriat Poalim
No. Pages 20pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Mar Zuta Ve-Etz Ha-Tapuchim