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The Family Tree

Written by Mal Peet

Illustrated by Emma Shoard

Part of the Super-readable YA Series

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The Family Tree Review

Books of the Month Dyslexia Friendly Books for Teens Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 13+ readers Featured Books for Young Adults Gritty Reads Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE)

Themes of fatherhood, memory and guilt explored in haunting YA novella

June 2018 Book of the Month |

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. 

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

Andrea Reece

Other Info

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.

The Family Tree Synopsis

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+

The Family Tree Press Reviews

"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

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781781128053
Publication date: 15/05/2018
Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781781128053
Publication date: 15th May 2018
Author: Mal Peet
Illustrator: Emma Shoard
Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 88 pages
Suitable for: 13+ readers, YA readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Gritty Reads, Personal Social Health Economic
Recommendations: Books of the Month
Other Categories: Dyslexia Friendly Books for Teen

About 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 ...

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