Reviewed by Grace (age 5) and Ella (age 4) Gleichner and Dad for Reader Views (11/09)
“Tess’s Tree” is the story of a young girl, Tess, and the very beautiful but very old tree in her yard. Tess loves the tree. She swings in it and sits under it; she even plays in the leaves that fall every autumn.
Grace: “I love trees and tree swings! I can’t wait until I am old enough to climb in them!”
Ella: ” I don’t think I’ll climb in them because I could fall. But, I love the leaves and all the colors they change. Except Christmas trees, their leaves don’t change color at all.”
One night the wind from a fierce storm breaks some of the bigger branches off and her parents make the decision to have the tree taken down.
Ella: “It got a boo boo. Why do they have to cut the tree down?”
What follows is Tess experiencing the stages of grieving that any person, young or old, would have when faced with the loss of a loved one. At first Tess didn’t want to believe that her tree was going to be taken down. Then there is anger, sadness, and finally acceptance.
With the help of her parents, Tess is able to channel all the energy associated with these feelings into a very thoughtful and touching way to say goodbye to a friend. Tess also begins to understand that she had shared the tree’s life with others who were also sad to see it removed. Together they could celebrate its life and share memories that they all had.
I loved this book! Loss is such an inescapable part of life and so difficult to deal with, especially for children. To be able to show kids that those feelings are very normal and can be used in a positive way was extremely clever.
My daughters didn’t quite grasp the idea about loss or losing something or someone you love. While I envy them, they will be faced with loss some time in their future and I believe a book like this could be an important part of helping them work through it.
“Tess’s Tree” by Jess Brallier was beautifully illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. I felt the pictures really helped tie the story together. Although the book is recommended for ages 4-7, I feel even older children could benefit from the message and lessons of this book.