The Memory Tree by Britta Teckentrup

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Published by Orchard Books, 2013.

img_1293It’s winter. Fox is old and tired. He makes his way to his favourite spot in the forest, lies down and falls asleep forever. As the snow falls and starts to cover his body, Fox’s friends begin to gather round. They can’t imagine life in the forest without him and they are sad.

This is a book about coping with the death of a loved one. In turn, the different forest animals come forward to reminisce about the happy times they spent with Fox and the fun they had together. The book becomes a celebration of Fox’s life, his warmth and his kindness.

img_1297As the animals tell their stories and share their memories of Fox, a little orange plant starts to grow out of the ground above where Fox died. They talk about Fox all night and, by morning, the tiny plant becomes a small tree. Over the course of the following weeks and months, the animals remember and share more and more stories about Fox. Their heavy hearts begin to lighten and the tree grows taller and taller and more beautiful. The tree becomes a central part of their lives: providing shade and shelter. It’s a permanent reminder of Fox and a way for the animals to continue to connect to him.

img_1292As usual, Britta Teckentrup’s illustrations are gorgeous. The wintry scenes are atmospheric and steeped in symbolism. She has also cleverly captured the changing seasons in a lovely page that has been split three ways. Her forest animals are charming and their eyes are wonderfully expressive. This picture of Fox and Mouse enjoying the sunset is my favourite illustration – just look at those colours and the comfortable companionship!

The story is comforting and reassuring and the tone of the book is positive and uplifting. Fox lives on in the hearts and memories of the other animals. This is an important message to share with grieving children; it’s helpful and healthy to remember and talk about a loved one after they have died.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 4+

We borrowed this book from Solihull Libraries.

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