The Family Tree

Peet’s emotionally charged book is not one that will be easily forgotten. It is a story of family, specifically the breakdown of young Benjamin’s family. When Benjamin returns to his childhood home and sees the derelict state of his father’s old treehouse, he recounts to us the story of how his parents’ marriage broke down in the simplest yet elegant prose.

It is mesmerizing how Peet uses lyrical words sparingly to create a story that has such a strong and lasting impact on the reader. Words and pictures work hand in hand to describe the events that unfolded in young Benjamin’s childhood. Shoard’s watercolour illustrations capture the tone of the story perfectly. Her style is abstract and almost muddy, and does well to complement the piece without stealing the spotlight. The illustrations range from half a page in size to covering two pages, and do not intrude on the reader’s experience.

This tale is definitely a poignant one and will be appreciated by young intelligent readers. It has a dark and sophisticated tone that could easily be reread by its audience; the story is a relatively short one, and it is amazing what Peet has done to tell it in only 72 pages. Hauntingly beautiful, it will certainly stick in the mind of its readers.