The Tree House
Little Steps 2014
hbk., RRP $A19.95
Teresa and Emma are sisters and best friends and Emma’s greatest wish is that her profoundly disabled sister could run on rainbows and do the things that she can, like climbing trees. So she asks Daddy and Grandpa to build a treehouse instead. But while they do that there is an accident which puts Teresa in hospital and changes the plans dramatically.
This is a sensitive family story that gives children with disabilities like Teresa’s, or their sisters, an opportunity to see themselves as characters in a story. While Teresa’s disability plays a significant role in the events, it is about family love first and disability second. Accompanied by gentle artwork, it is a feel-good story that might help others think about the things they do and take for granted. Imagine even eating strawberries becoming a challenge or being unable to speak, let alone unable to do either. Yet this is the life of many young children and we need to acknowledge it.
This book was written after the author had a conversation with a social worker who told her that there were very few books available to start discussions with the siblings of disabled children who are finding it hard to cope with the situation. It is based on Toni’s sister, Teresa, who had cerebral palsy, and the influence Teresa had on her. While I’ve read other books in which the main character has a disability, this is the first one I recall written from the perspective of a sibling.
Worth having in your collection.