Tess's Tree

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Tess's Tree Book Poster Image
Sweet story of grief and healing is pitch perfect.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Tess releases first her anger by acting out, then her sadness by organizing a funeral with the loving participation of family and neighbors.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tess shows creativity and consideration; her loving mother is supportive and proud of her daughter; several adults in her life share Tess’s grief and help her cope.

Violence & Scariness

The story revolves around the loss of Tess’s tree after a violent storm, a loss she treats as a death.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know this gentle book deals head-on with loss, walking young children through the process of grieving and teaching them how to heal and move on. The loss in this case is a tree, but to Tess it’s like losing a beloved playmate.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGamer4056 June 7, 2018

Tess's Tree Parent Guide

Violence: A violent storm comes and kills a helpless tree. That makes Tess sad. Educational value: In this book, people can learn about how violent storms can c... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old January 3, 2014


awesome on funbrain

What's the story?

Nine-year-old Tess loves playing on and around the old tree in her yard. When a storm damages several branches and the unsafe tree is sawed down, Tess is heartbroken. She decides to hold a funeral. Family, friends, and neighbors share their stories of how the tree had been a part of their lives. In the process, Tess is able to let go of her tears and anger.

Is it any good?

This is author Jess M. Brallier’s first picture book, and he gets it right in every way. Originally published online, TESS'S TREE makes a deserved transition to a printed book worth treasuring. Both children and parents will appreciate Brallier's honest, comforting text. He provides a playbook for parents and children trying to sort out feelings of grief and loss and focus on joyful memories. Kids will readily empathize with Tess as she struggles with difficult feelings. There are light touches, too, such as Tess decorating the tree’s “children” for the service and the appearance of a couple who had long ago carved their names into the old tree.
Peter H. Reynolds, author-illustrator of  The Dot, again offers delightful, sensitive illustrations. His Tess rampages fiercely after her tree is cut down, then collapses in a heartbroken heap on the stump. She’s simply drawn but wonderfully expressive.

Sensitively and beautifully drawn artwork reflects the warmth of the story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about coping with loss. Have you ever felt like Tess does when her tree is taken down? How did you react? Did it help you feel better?

  • At the celebration of the life of Tess’s tree, Tess learns about the tree’s past. Help children interview someone older -- a grandparent, aunt, or neighbor, perhaps -- about something in their past, such as their first day of school, the house they grew up in, or what they did for fun as a child.

  • Families reading this book while dealing with a loss can try some of the activities Tess does. Try holding a celebratory funeral, or commemorate what you’ve lost through artwork.

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the Earth and good friends

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