Tess's Tree

 
Sweet story of grief and healing is pitch perfect.

What parents need to know

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

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.

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Author:Jess Brallier
Illustrator:Peter H. Reynolds
Genre:Emotions
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:August 25, 2009
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 8
Read aloud:4
Read alone:6

This review of Tess's Tree was written by

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 8 years old January 3, 2014
age 5+
 

shickles

awesome on funbrain
What other families should know
Educational value
Parent of a 6 year old Written bymadsmooney1214 September 3, 2012
age 4+
 

tesss tree

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.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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