From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3–When a storm fells a favorite tree, Dad writes a letter to his children, who are visiting their grandparents, to tell them the bad news. He reminds them of the day the family surveyed the piece of land where their new home would be built. Trees had to be cleared, but this giant, dubbed "Steve" by the youngest who couldn't pronounce "tree," was spared. Through the years, Steve became the family swing, third base, laundry line, campground, and even a first love's trysting place. The pencil-and-watercolor cartoons feature Catrow's familiar round-faced children and their comical dog. They extend the spare text with many visual jokes. A cheery palette gives way to dark magenta and blue when the tree dies, a melancholy dog sprawled across its stump. Zweibel attempts to give the story a hopeful twist at the end, but, overall, it is a bittersweet and genuinely sad slice of life.–Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT
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In a letter to his three children who are visiting their grandparents, a father recalls all the wonderful things Steve the tree has been to their family. When they visited the empty lot where they would build their house, Sari, the youngest, couldn't say tree, so she said "Steve." Thus, a family friend was dubbed. He was perfect for shade and hanging laundry when the dryer broke. He even held a hammock for fat Uncle Chester and drank all the sewer water when the sump backed up. Being a tree has its dangers, and a storm knocked Steve down. Friend to the last, Steve didn't fall on the house, doghouse, swing set or garden. Dad's writing to warn the kids that Steve won't greet them when they return, but his lumber has made a wonderful new playhouse. Zweibel and Catrow have created a faultless piece of bibliotherapy for children working through loss. Catrow's usual bright, wide-eyed, exuberant watercolors bring individuality and immediacy to Zweibel's simple text. Steve's almost-face shines in each illustration of this sentimental tribute. Kirkus Reviews, starred review