Our Tree Named Steve

( 4 )

Overview

Dear Kids, A long time ago, when you were little, Mom and I took you to where we wanted to build a house. . . . I remember there was one tree, however, that the three of you couldn’t stop staring at. . . .

After the family spares him from the builders, Steve the tree quickly works his way into their lives. He holds their underwear when the dryer breaks down, he’s there when Adam and Lindsay get their first crushes, and he’s the centerpiece at their outdoor family parties. With ...

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Overview

Dear Kids, A long time ago, when you were little, Mom and I took you to where we wanted to build a house. . . . I remember there was one tree, however, that the three of you couldn’t stop staring at. . . .

After the family spares him from the builders, Steve the tree quickly works his way into their lives. He holds their underwear when the dryer breaks down, he’s there when Adam and Lindsay get their first crushes, and he’s the centerpiece at their outdoor family parties. With a surprising lack of anthropomorphizing, this is a uniquely poignant celebration of fatherhood, families, love, and change.

In a letter to his children, a father recounts memories of the role Steve, the tree in their front yard, has played in their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Zweibel's first book for children serves as the chronicle of a family's beloved leafy cornerstone, told in flashback by a father to his children. From the moment they first saw the lot where their house would be built, Adam, Lindsay, Sari and their dog, Kirby, were infatuated with a mammoth tree on the property. Two-year-old Sari pronounced the word "tree" as "Steve," and the name stuck. Saved from clearing, Steve became "a swing holder, target, third base, hiding place," as well as a backdrop for campouts, parties and play dates, and a provider of shade and beauty. But while the kids vacationed at Grandma's, a particularly strong storm toppled Steve, and Dad drafted a letter-this story-to prepare them before their return. TV and stage writer Zweibel fills his epistolary text with heartfelt emotion without overdoing it. His universal and realistic scenarios and characters are sure to strike a chord with a cadre of readers. Catrow's (I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!, reviewed above) watercolor-and-pencil compositions capture the enormous, comforting Steve in the glory of each season and depict a young, sprightly family appreciative of, and connected to, a natural treasure. His humorous images of a dog dragging underwear off the clothesline or Uncle Chester bursting out of a hammock make the sorrowful images of the bare trunk all the more poignant. Ages 4-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-When a storm fells a favorite tree, Dad writes a letter to his children, who are visiting their grandparents, to tell them the bad news. He reminds them of the day the family surveyed the piece of land where their new home would be built. Trees had to be cleared, but this giant, dubbed "Steve" by the youngest who couldn't pronounce "tree," was spared. Through the years, Steve became the family swing, third base, laundry line, campground, and even a first love's trysting place. The pencil-and-watercolor cartoons feature Catrow's familiar round-faced children and their comical dog. They extend the spare text with many visual jokes. A cheery palette gives way to dark magenta and blue when the tree dies, a melancholy dog sprawled across its stump. Zweibel attempts to give the story a hopeful twist at the end, but, overall, it is a bittersweet and genuinely sad slice of life.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a letter to his three children who are visiting their grandparents, a father recalls all the wonderful things Steve the tree has been to their family. When they visited the empty lot where they would build their house, Sari, the youngest, couldn't say tree, so she said "Steve." Thus, a family friend was dubbed. He was perfect for shade and hanging laundry when the dryer broke. He even held a hammock for fat Uncle Chester and drank all the sewer water when the sump backed up. Being a tree has its dangers, and a storm knocked Steve down. Friend to the last, Steve didn't fall on the house, doghouse, swing set or garden. Dad's writing to warn the kids that Steve won't greet them when they return, but his lumber has made a wonderful new playhouse. Zweibel and Catrow have created a faultless piece of bibliotherapy for children working through loss. Catrow's usual bright, wide-eyed, exuberant watercolors bring individuality and immediacy to Zweibel's simple text. Steve's almost-face shines in each illustration of this sentimental tribute. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142407431
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/15/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 67,637
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.98 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Zweibel

Alan Zweibel lives in Los Angeles, California. David Catrow lives in Springfield, Ohio.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2008

    A weird title for a book

    My mom and I read this book and I liked it. My mom thought it was a good book to read when a pet dies, or something familiar changes, to help kids see that our memories help things live on. I wondered why the tree broke down? The pictures were also good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2007

    story time

    Kids liked it. I think partly because I love this story so much. We always had fun pointing the dog's actions out to each other :) . Easy to do crafts with this title as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2005

    You'll love Steve

    This is a very fun book, both in story and in illustration. My kids loved it. The story is sweet, silly and sad, but has a happy ending. The illustrations are funny, so my kids wanted to stop and look at every page in detail. If you have ever endured the loss of something that was important to you, you will be able to empathize with this family. Yet they make the best of their loss and create a way to enjoy 'Steve' for many more years. This book should definitely be a part of any picture book library. It has both substance and entertainment value. It's one of the best books for young kids (2-10) we have read in quite a while.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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