I have to admit that I am a fan of children’s books, they are a source of wonder to me. They are way more complex than they may appear to many adults. Alas adults are adults and some fail to understand, or capitalize on the learning opportunity that a well thought out picture book can have.

A successful child’s book contains several vital components, an entertainment aspect for the pre-reader to keep their interest, an educational component that the parent can utilize, and a concept that that the young reader can assimilate with in the real world.

Tess’s Tree
excels in all three areas. Loss is not a concept that comes easily to young children, it may be the loss of a pet, it may be the loss of a sibling, a parent, or a grand parent. But loss is most certainly a part of many young children’s lives. Loss is sometimes a very hard concept to convey to a young child.

Loss always means some sadness, but, as Tess’s Tree points out, that sadness can be turned around to a celebration of the loss. An appreciation for what was, and the legacy that always will be.

In young Tess’s life her favorite thing in the whole wide world is an old tree. She loves the swing that hangs on the sturdy branch, she loves to play in the Autumn leaves, she loves to sit under the shade it offers during the hot summer months.

A freak storm breaks many of the old trees boughs, there is no option but to cut it down, Tess’s lifelong friend has gone! And Tess is beside herself. Her best friend has gone. Gone forever.

Tess decided to hold a gathering, the term funeral is used, but this will not be a sad occasion, it will be a chance for people to celebrate this wonderful tree. A well dressed couple attend the celebration, and reveal that this was their tree years ago, and the heart inscribed on the trunk was their doing, and old lady explains that when she was was young, it was also her tree, in fact she has a photo to prove it, and lets Tess keep it.

Dealing with loss is a hard road to go down, it matters not if you are a young child or an adult. Loss is loss and has to be worked through.

Tess’s Tree deserves great kudos. It takes a hard subject and comes out with some very positive commentary. But Tess’s Tree is also a delightful pre-reader. You do not have to dwell on the underlaying theme, it is a book that stands on it’s own merits. Any child would love this book. Peter Reynolds has done an outstanding job with his illustrations. They are simple enough that any child would love them, yet rich enough to convey the message. Even more importantly they convey the story in a fashion that the pre-reader can understand.

I see two great uses for Tess’s Tree, number one, every pre reader will enjoy it, it is an engaging story, and if you do find yourself in a state of ‘loss’, this book might just be the key to unlocking the secret to a small child.

There is quite a story behind this book, it originally started life as an online venture, part of the highly successful children’s game and puzzle site Funbrain.com, It was so successful that Harper Collins is behind the book version. There are very few new authors that can boast an imprint on Harper Collins!

I suspect that Tess’s Tree will do very well in the market. It is available at book stores everywhere, or can be ordered through Amazon. Funbrain.com also has a page dedicated to Tess’s Tree.

Simon Barrett

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