cover image Daddy's Climbing Tree

Daddy's Climbing Tree

C. S. Adler. Clarion Books, $15 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-395-63032-7

Overcome by grief when her father is killed in a hit-and-run accident, Jessica refuses to acknowledge his death and determinedly ignores the condolence callers and funeral arrangements. The 11-year-old--angry with her mother and convinced that her father is at their former home--runs away with her younger brother to find him. The author of Good-bye, Pink Pig and Tuna Fish Thanksgiving honestly and straightforwardly depicts Jessica's conflicting emotions here, as well as her ambivalence towards her mother. The emotional content of this family tragedy is frequently revealed through dialogue--``He's dead and you just won't admit it,'' says Jessica's brother. In a poignant ending, the girl finds her father's old tree; climbing to the top, she begins to feel some of her long-buried anguish. Her precarious descent signals the beginning of her grieving process, and a possible reconciliation with her remaining parent. Since stories involving death are not easy to sum up, it seems fitting that this novel ends on a note of discovery and a long journey back home. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)