View from the Cherry Tree

Common Sense Media says

Exciting but flawed murder mystery for tweens.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Every character in this book is self-centered. Adults don't listen to, or seem to care much about, their own children.


A boy witnesses a gruesome death that may have been a murder. An old woman abuses a boy.

Not applicable

A cat is called S.O.B.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A criminal sells drugs. Smoking, beer drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that all the adults in this story are depicted as insensitive, uncaring, and self-centered. The child is no better, and this is never resolved. Also, the main character, a young boy, sees a woman die by hanging.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Rob likes to hang out in his cherry tree, especially now that his family is obsessed with his sister's wedding. He can get away and hide, but has a good view and can eavesdrop. One of the things he can see is the house of his nasty old neighbor, Mrs. Calloway. He even has a clear view of her when she falls out of her first-floor window and dies hanging from the branch of his tree by the strap of her binoculars.

Rob is sure he saw the hand of a man push her out the window, but no one will believe him -- or even listen to him. But someone is listening. Even when he is shot at and nearly poisoned, no one pays attention. But the murderer is after Rob -- and he has no one to rely on but himself.

Is it any good?


The first thing your kids will notice is that this is an exciting, suspenseful, edge-of-the-seat thriller with a climax that will keep them glued to the pages. The first thing you will notice is that this all sounds awfully familiar, starting with Aesop. But no matter -- it's good fun. After they finish, though, your kids may have a delayed, "Wait a minute ..." reaction, as they realize the plot makes little sense.

But even the gaping plot holes can be an opportunity for you to help your kids be more critical readers. This book can help them learn to go beyond merely accepting what the author tells them.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the way the family treats Rob. Why aren't they more concerned about him? Why won't anyone listen to him? Why are they so obsessed with the wedding? Also, discussion of the flaws in the plot can sharpen critical reading skills.

Book details

Author:Willo Davis Roberts
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:July 1, 1998
Number of pages:181
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:9
Read alone:9

This review of View from the Cherry Tree was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

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

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byyokoke January 31, 2011
Was given to my daughter at age 6 ir 7 through RIF program. I "cleaned house" at both the school board and her school, from principal on down. Even went to the local newspapers. The language is very inappropriate for a second-grader and overall tone of the book is negative.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Parent of a 2, 5, 6, 9, and 10 year old Written byjgstanding December 8, 2010

Not fit for ages intended, maybe for ages over 13

This book is written as a murder/mystery for ages 9-11 and is definetly not fit for this age group. It has no good theme or moral to it. In the beginning, p.4 it uses the words "son of a b***in cat" which leads to the name of the cat being called "S.O.B." throughout the entire book. There is a murder description that begins on p. 53 that is very descript and disturbing. At one point the main character is offered casually a beer. The murder takes place because of a bag of heroine that is hidden in the woman's house and she will not give it to a young adult man. All the adults in this story are depicted as insensitive and disrespectful to the boy (main character), even the police when he goes to them for help. This book was given my 5th grade child as a class read, and I was very disturbed that it was considered "approved material" for elementary age. This is the first children's book written by the author who normally writes gothic, adult murder mystery and medical mystery fiction. Would we let our young children read the first children's book written by Steven King? Probably not. The actual book was only an "okay" read for entertainment in my opinion for anyone. There are much better choices.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 10 years old August 2, 2010
love it want to read it again and again


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide