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The Tobin Tree

Three strikes and you’re out was the rule, but Tobin knew this wasn’t about baseball. Stealing the baler key and the distributor wire—did that count as one or two? Playing on the tree in the river had been a big mistake. AND not telling the truth. That probably counted as three strikes all by itself. What if they don’t want me anymore? she thought. What if they send me away?

Tobin is eleven, the daughter of an Irish mother and a father from India. Her parents have died and now she lives with a family on a ranch in the Colorado Rockies.

A judge might send her to a foster home, and a boy at her new sixth-grade class says, “We don’t want your kind here!” But her greatest challenge is day-to-day life with no memories of the past—not the accident—not even her parents.

“Amnesia,” her new mom explains. “Your memories will return in time.”

Tobin listens to the wisdom of John, the Native American ranch manager, makes new friends, and faces off with the classroom bully. In the end, she relies on her inner strength and a deepening connection with nature to find a path forward.

Young readers will enjoy Tobin’s adventures.

Parents and grandparents can share Tobin’s story as a read-aloud.

Professionals can use the book with a group, in a classroom, a home-school setting, or in counseling.

Praise for The Tobin Tree

The Tobin Tree navigates the challenges of our modern culture with calm grace and charm.
Tobin is a fully developed character, with fits of fearfulness and rage as well as cooperation, curiosity, and gratitude. Readers are lifted up by her story, delicately told, through the use of the web of life and references to Native American wisdom and viewpoint.
The portrait of Colorado is compelling, and the story imparts factual information about the environment, as well as the excitement of sliding on a glacier and casting a flyrod. We would all like to visit Sweetwater Ranch!
Tana Leonhart is an accomplished new Maine writer, in the tradition of Sarah Orne Jewett.
—Walden S. Morton, Teacher and Writer, Cape Elizabeth, ME.

This story is a beautiful illustration of the pain and underlying anxiety characteristic of grief, and of the importance of time, support, and expression that are key to the healing process. The outdoor experiences and creative opportunities are wonderful enhancements, for both Tobin and the reader. 
Tobin draws on her growing understanding of nature to make peace with her loss, ultimately finding a new sense of self. In the end, the reader can only celebrate her journey!

—Jaynie Muggli, MA, LPC, Bereavement and Cancer Counselor, Denver, Colorado

As a reading specialist, I used The Tobin Tree as the basis of a reading unit with my class of fifth grade students. Their first question, of course, was: What is a tobin tree? I suggested we read for clues to find out.
As we talked about the story, students became more and more involved. One student called it a “thinking book.” Many in the class had moved from place to place, and told about their personal experiences making new friends, going to a new school, and with bullying. The book elicited many in-depth discussions.
And the story introduced the class to new ideas. Amnesia was interesting to them, as well as life on a western ranch in the mountains. (My students were city dwellers!) Horseback riding, baling hay, and sliding on a glacier were not part of their experiences!
Tobin’s poetry encouraged one student to write her own poems, realizing that poetry could be integrated into her own story writing, and when we finished reading, we all wrote letters to the author! Reading The Tobin Tree was a wonderful and valued experience!
—Fern Funk, Reading Specialist,  Chicago, Illinois

Tana J. Leonhart

After a wonderful teaching career and years spent in the mountains of Colorado, Tana Leonhart now lives in Maine, near rocky shores and small, quiet beaches—a perfect place to write, paint, and play her flute. She is grateful for tiny green shoots in her spring garden, bluebirds at her feeder, and the excitement of sharing ideas and thoughts with others. She believes communication is a great gift—both the telling and the listening. She hopes you will share your ideas and thoughts and will seek to hear the ideas of others. There is so much to be learned.