Review Blog

Aug 14 2012

The wattle tree by John Bell

cover image

Ill. by Ben Wood. Hachette, 2012. ISBN 978 0734412911.
(Ages: 5+) Recommended. Picture book. Grief. Molly's grandmother has died, and not only she but also her mother, miss her terribly. Molly used to be with her each Friday but now must stay with her mother. She used to make scones with her grandmother but mum cannot make the time. One day she dons her grandmother's gardening hat and walks off into the long garden. She finds a tree that reminds her of her grandmother. It has dark green leaves like the dresses Grandma wore, and the tree's curves remind her of her grandmother's curls. So each day Molly sits by the tree, sometimes hugging it like Grandma used to do, sometimes brushing her cheek by its soft bark, and sometimes dancing. Each day her mother asks her where she has been, but she keeps it a secret.
But one day she comes across her mother in tears. She suggests they make some scones together and take them down to the bottom of the garden, where she shows her mother Grandma's tree. Molly tells her mother that they can visit Grandma any time they like.
A charming story of finding a way to remember a loved grandmother who has died, this story will have resonance with many members of the classroom where death has been a part of their lives but also to others where they are perhaps wondering what will happen when a beloved relation becomes more frail. A gentle story of acceptance and love within the family, the book is companionable and tender, as the two grieving family members find a way to remember together. And this gentleness is reflected beautifully by the soft and charming illustrations.
Fran Knight

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