BY ARTHUR MCCULLOCH
Author: Jess M. Brallier, with illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds
Harper Collins, 2009
Filed Under: Children’s
When I saw Tess’s Tree on display at The Blue Bunny, the local independent bookstore in Dedham, I grew excited. Here, I thought, was an opportunity to satisfy my interests on many different levels. A relative newcomer to Dedham, I’ve been making an effort to read books by local authors. I started with Peter Reynolds, an author, illustrator, and bookstore owner. The first book of his I purchased was The Dot. This was a wonderful story that my entire family enjoyed, and a book that I have since purchased to give as a gift. The illustrations were lovely, the character was both feisty and adorable, and the themes of the genesis of the artist and overcoming the fear of trying new things were compelling and well executed.
I purchased Tess’s Tree in the hopes of not just another great reading experience for me and my children, but one that would hold a special place on their bookshelf. I would be supporting the work of a local bookstore, a local artist, and I could do my best to advocate for it with a lovingly and spectacular review. My enthusiasm was doubly buoyed because I recognized the name of the author, Jess Braillier. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I worked with Jess, but I knew Jess from the days when our former employers shared an office space. Jess was the publisher of Planet Dexter, and among other books, he brought us the New York Times Bestselling title Grossology, by Sylvia Branzei, another book I consider special.
So I walked into The Blue Bunny and bought a signed copy of Tess’s Tree and everything was set for a great night. I removed the dust jacket delicately just before settling down into my glider and then plopped my daughter down on my lap and planned to be amazed.
My expectations were set too high. Tess’s Tree is a solid, well-illustrated book with an original story line and a wonderful message. However, I felt somewhat disappointed. Though I couldn’t quite figure out why. Continue reading