The Memory Tree by Britta Teckentrup

Death may be a part of life, just like birth and every milestone you have since. But the passing of a loved family member, friend or pet is heart-wrenching and even if you identify as a mature adult, you can to fall to pieces. How much more unbearable and confusing would it be for a child to have to experience that feeling of loss. As the mature adult in their life, you may struggle to find words to soothe the pain and help them understand. Beautifully written and illustrated books such as these are invaluable in these circumstances, the narrative substituting for your unfound words. 

In this story, animals in the forest are suddenly faced with the loss of their dear friend Fox. Britta Teckentrup explains death as falling asleep forever. I love the illustration where Owl, hugs fox as he lies still in the snow. Owl is soon joined by their other friends. They sit together struggling to imagine life without Fox. 

The animals sat in silence for a very long time. 

I love this sentence. It acknowledges that when surrounded and supported by loved ones, silence is fine to process your emotions and that grief may take a long time to overcome, and that’s okay too. After that they start speaking, each friend sharing a memory of their dear friend. Then they smile

…and their sad hearts filled with warmth. 

An orange tree grows from Fox’s resting place. As the tree grows and the animals continue to share their memories, it helps them release their grief. As you follow the characters in their grief, any questions or discussion can be directed at the characters in the story, making the conversation with your little one easier. 

Suggested age: Read aloud to 4+. Read by self 6+. Recommended for a confident reader.

Published by Orchard Books, 2013.

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