The Copper Tree


In The Copper Tree a group of students are introduced to grief when their beloved teacher passes away.  They learn that even though she is dead, her memory lives on.  Author Hilary Robinson takes a tender and lighthearted approach towards helping young children understand death and the subsequent feeling of loss.

The storyline is very simple. Miss Evans, a primary school teacher is taken ill, her health becomes progressively worse and she dies. Mr Banks asked the children all to write remember notes, and the caretaker, Stan, makes a tree out of copper wire and the remember notes are inscribed on copper leaves, hence The Copper Tree.

There are just enough words to tell the story and talk about people’s feelings in the face of illness and death in a way suited to children. Mandy Stanley has done the pictures - lots of them and just right for the story, filling the 32 pages of the book.

The aim is obviously to help young children come to terms with dying and grieving. The book will certainly be of help in such an event, but I hope that teachers and parents will use it with their children when there is no immediate cause for grief too. Death and dying can be treated as an uncomfortable taboo subject, and thankfully we face it much less among young people than a hundred years ago. But this book deals with the subject in a straightforward way, acknowledging people’s feelings while having lighter touches too. We recommend it.

It's about remembering the good bits of a person and putting them inside you.

  • Isobel Butters (age 8)
  • (via Amazon)

We think it is excellent for pre-schools and infant schools and the only book we know of that addresses the death of a teacher.

This is a book about a serious subject but with a bright and cheerful outlook.

There is humour in the story and lots of smiley faces even through the sadness. We learn that it is good to talk about our sadness, and that better times will come. We even meet the class ‘difficult child’ in the person of Alfie Tate, who erases his name sixteen times from the get well card because he can’t write properly and causes ructions in the class play because he wants to play the giant. Sensitively handled and beautifully produced, this gentle and reassuring text with expressive illustrations will provide help to children facing bereavement in a number of different situations.

A great book for young children facing bereavement.

  • Waterstones
  • Waterstones logo

The Copper Tree gives the clear and unsentimental message that it's quite natural to be sad when someone dies but it also endorses the powerful effects of memory as a means of healing.

  • Kate Saunders
  • Children's Author

A delightful and touching story of life and how we live it, as little people and bigger people, together and on our own. 'The Copper Tree' brings a tear and a smile to my face at the same time.

  • Ger Graus
  • Chief Executive
  • The Children's University
  • Children's University logo

The perfect story for children who have lost a parent or much loved figure in their life, honest unsentimental and reassuring. It belongs in every school library.

  • Barbara Smith
  • Former Acting Head Teacher
  • Mount Pellon School, Halifax

The narrative positively and directly addresses the simple needs of young children exploring these feelings of grief and loss for possibly the first time.

I loved this book and whole heartedly commend its use especially for those situations when books about ‘Feelings and colours’ are simply not enough. This book is not a panacea but it delivers a very useful tool for grief with children, simply, safely and without trauma. It is also a really good read.

  • Revd Dr Paul Fitzpatrick
  • Lead Lecturer for Bereavement, Grief and Loss
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University