A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.