Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Kim Ventrella
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Stanly Stanwright’s life is slowly falling apart. Stanly's archaeologist father has left and Stanly's sister, Mirren, is very sick. A small finger bone poking out of Stanly’s backyard draws all his attention away from his problems. Each day more bones push themselves out of the dirt, as if a skeleton is sprouting like a tree. Before Stanly’s eyes the skeleton pulls itself out of the ground to freely move around. He notices that as the skeleton develops, Miren's health declines. Stanly begins to wonder if the skeleton is an evil angel of death arriving to take his sister away. He rages against the skeleton, but it cowers in fear. With Miren defending the helpless creature, Stanly backs off and watches as Miren is comforted by the skeleton up until her death.
Skeleton Tree is a unique spin on an angel of death-themed story. At first, Stanly only sees the growing skeleton as an amazing archaeological discovery. He believes that if he brings forward his great find, it will be the key to set everything right in his life. But not everything is as it seems, especially as the bones break free from the ground and start hanging around Miren. Stanly’s dreams of solving all his family’s problems are destroyed. But in reality, the skeleton helps to cushion the biggest problem of Stanly’s life: the loss of a loved one. Skeleton Tree is a thought-provoking book that helps the reader see the grief process from a different perspective. This book is appropriate for ages ten and up.