The Jesse tree

The Jesse tree

Geraldine Mccaughren
Lion; 2003; £12.99; Hardback; 96p,
ISBN 0745945775

This children’s book retells the significant biblical stories from the Old Testament through to the New Testament birth of Christ through the use of a “Jesse Tree”.

Mr. Butterfield is a carpenter who is carefully carving a Jesse tree in his local Church and is interrupted in his work by a young boy who wants to know what the symbols on the tree represent.

The story starts at the bottom of the tree with the images of the sun and moon and reaches the top with the image of a star.

Mr. Butterfield narrates each story so that it could be read as twenty-four separate stories as part of Advent or at any time of the year. At first, the relationship between the boy and Mr Butterfield is strained, but by retelling the stories this slowly develops.

This is beautifully illustrated by Bee Wiley who has kindly given a picture representation of the “Jesse Tree” as the end pages of the book.

The tradition of Jesse trees stems from Isaiah 11 verse 1 and they were carved and used in old churches. The introduction tells me that they “were the Bible-storybooks of unlettered people”. Many were destroyed in the seventeenth century by Puritans.

This is an interesting introduction to the significant events of the Bible and a good investment for those children who have no previous knowledge of the Bible and how Jesus came to be. It is a story of his “family tree”.

Contributed by Marie Shipley, BA, MCLIP, who is a former CLIS Midlands regional rep. and has worked for the schools library service in Coventry.