The Family Tree by Mal Peet

The Family Tree

Written by Mal Peet
Illustrated by Emma Shoard

13+ readers   Books of the Month   YA readers   Reluctant Readers   Summer Reading   Super-readable Dyslexia-friendly   
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June 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: themes of fatherhood, memory and guilt explored in haunting YA novella

Mal Peet, who died in 2015, wrote with extraordinary sensitivity and insight and this novella, freshly published by Barrington Stoke, is testimony to his talent. Benjamin finds himself by accident outside his old home and revisits memories of the garden and treehouse that 20 years ago were such a key part of his childhood. His father built the treehouse for him but it quickly changed from being a place of shared stories to something less happy – a hideaway from his mother, a hiding place for his father as he turned away from the outside world. The story is a painful one, years on Ben is still torn by conflicting loyalties, still angry with his father, still guilty for abandoning him. His return brings some new perspectives, but no happy resolution. Emma Shoard’s new illustrations equal the text for rawness, depth and resonance. ~ Andrea Reece

Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 14+

Illustrator, Emma Shoard says: “After much anticipation, I am so happy to be working on this beautiful story by Mal Peet. There is so much depth and reality to the relationship between his characters; I hope to illustrate something of those spacious places he has created in between the lines. The huge, ancient beech tree at the centre of this story is a real treat for an illustrator.”

Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers. Here on Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting new titles and refreshing our special dyslexia friendly category.

Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range.

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The 11 instalment in the best-selling Skulduggery Pleasant series, Midnight, is out in hardback on 31 May. To celebrate this we are giving away THREE prizes of all 11 books in the series, SIGNED by the author Derek Landy and delivered in a special Skulduggery Pleasant tote bag!

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The Family Tree by Mal Peet

When a man returns to his childhood home and visits the derelict tree house in which his father once chose to live, he recalls the past unravelling of his family, the unspoken strangeness of their lives, and the impact on his own adult life. Beautiful, sparse and insightful storytelling.

Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 14+


"I love this wonderful book. How does Mal Peet do so much in such a short space? It's engrossing, haunting, beautifully written." - David Almond

"For some time now, Mal Peet has been the most elegant prose stylist in the world of young-adult of the best novelists, full stop" - Anthony McGowan

“A timely reminder of what a magician Mal Peet was. How you cast such a powerful, intoxicating spell with so few words is beyond me” Phil Earle

“For thoughtful, intelligent young readers, no writer of this century writes better than Mal Peet” Meg Rosoff

“I commissioned The Family Tree for an anthology I was editing for Walker Books, and I knew as soon as Mal sent it to me that it was a great story – full of the warmth and insight into people that was so characteristic of Mal as a writer and a human being. I’m really pleased to see that it’s being issued as a book in its own right by that most excellent publisher Barrington Stoke – and I’m very moved that Mal dedicated the book to me and to Gill Evans, the editor I was working with at Walker Books. Mal is very much missed – but at least we still have his stories to read” Tony Bradman

“A story of such challenging emotional complexity, yet told so simply, so gently. No wonder Mal Peet is a story-teller we miss so much” Keith Gray

About the Author

Mal Peet

Mal Peet (June 1947 – 2 March 2015), winner of the Nestle Bronze Medal Award and the Branford Boase Award grew up in North Norfolk, and studied English and American Studies at the University of Warwick. Later he moved to south-west England and worked at a variety of jobs before turning full-time to writing and illustrating in the early 1990s. With his wife, Elspeth Graham, he wrote and illustrated many educational picture books for young children, and his cartoons appeared in a number of magazines. He and Elspeth lived in Exmouth, Devon.

Tamar won the Carnegie Medal and is a multi-layered tale of love and betrayal. He wrote three other linked novels, Keeper, The Penalty and Exposure, all featuring the football obsessed Paul Faustino, a sports journalist in South America who is reluctantly drawn into murders and mysteries.

Exposure won the 2009 Guardian Award for Children’s Fiction. On his award win, Mal said, “I’m totally thrilled to win the Guardian prize. I’ve been buying the newspaper for 35 years, so I’ve worked for it! In fact, if you subtract the prize money from what I’ve spent at the newsagents, the Guardian is way ahead on the deal! I don’t mind – the Guardian prize is very special. It’s judged by other writers so it’s pretty likely that if you win it, you deserve it.”

He also wrote a critically acclaimed adult novel, The Murdstone Trilogy

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Book Info


96 pages


Mal Peet
More books by Mal Peet

Author's Website


Barrington Stoke Ltd

Publication date

15th May 2018




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