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Summary: When Mom decided that Juliet needed her own room, Dad moved all of his "scientific stuff" into the hall. In the process of cleaning her new room, Juliet discovered a mural under the wallpaper. It was a tree, and as Nana explained, each of the animals on the tree will hold her worries so that she can sleep well each night. From Juliet's point of view, they would be very busy dealing with all of her worries: her little sister Ophelia is being a pest; Nana could get hurt because she never wears her safety necklace; Hugh the class bully is always bothering her; her friends were fighting over who was the best friend; and Mom and Dad are always fighting over the stuff in the hall. Too many problems for one little third grader. Can some painted animals really help her? This is a middle-grade chapter book about change and dealing with life's problems.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader
Recommended Age: read together: 7 to 10; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 8 to 10
Reading Level: 4.2
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a lovely story, with just enough humor to keep it light but not silly. Although boys struggle with similar issues, the presentation makes this a book for preteen girls. Although this may be too subtle for some readers to see, the author does a wonderful job showing cross-generation struggles with change: Nana (grandmother) is fighting against growing old; Juliet is struggling to be more independent, too. I particularly liked that there are pages in the back where the reader can place their worries with the "correct" animal.
Pros: Well-developed characters and realistic family/school situations make this a wholesome, helpful read for preteens.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is an excellent books to read together or keep on the bookshelf through those tweener years. The goose on the front will remind girls that there are ways/places to go to help with their problems.
Educational Themes: There is a lot you can do with this book. It is a perfect bookclub or small-group title as the events create great opportunities for what-would-you-do and how-would-you-feel discussions. The story offers a system for helping kids deal with worries. Juliet has a tree painted on the wall, but she also purchases a bonsai tree for Nana. The note pages in the back could be the beginning of a journal, as well.
Notes: The Reading Tub read an advance review copy of this book.