The memory tree by Britta Teckentrup
Hachette, 2014. ISBN 9781408326343
(Ages 2-8) Highly recommended. Every now and then a book comes along that is beautifully presented and brings with it a message that every child should have the chance to read and discuss. On the first page, 'He looked at his beloved forest one last time and lay down. Fox closed his eyes, took a deep breath and fell asleep... forever.' The memory tree centres on the death of a loved one (the Fox) in a quiet, polite and sensitive story that instantly evokes emotions.
The memory tree has a placid and calm way of presenting both the illustrations and the story. The local inhabitants of the forest, Owl, Mouse, Rabbit, Squirrel and Bear, all reflect on their experiences and memories of Fox who had touched them each individually in a beautiful and memorable way. These reflections evoke emotions and personal memories easily in the reader.
The issue with The memory tree is when does an adult read it to a child? The story is very emotional and can perhaps be too powerful for a bedtime story. It may be a great way to discuss the loss of life or the topic of immortality.
My son loved this book and immediately asked for it to be read again. I would thoroughly recommend it to be a part of any good library. I would also recommend The memory tree to anyone who needs to discuss the passing of a loved one with a child.
If only the story of dying could always be this sweet.