A Thriller Jennie Story

The Tree Story

“It happened like this… this is my house, and this is the Kruger’s house (I physically hold up my arm to show one and the other, side-by-side).  My house and the Kruger’s house.   In between the two houses was a huge sweet gum tree.  The tree was really big and it had round balls with pointy spikes that dropped all over the yard.  You couldn’t even walk in the yard barefoot because the pointy spikes would stick and hurt your feet.  It was awful.  I knew the tree had to come down.  Where I worked, there was a man named Ray.  Now, Ray would come and cut down your tree.  It didn’t cost anything because he kept all the wood.  So, I told Ray about my tree, and he said he would cut it down.

First thing Saturday morning Ray showed up with his two big, strong teenage sons.  They started right away, going to the top of the tree and cutting down all the branches.  Then they took a big whack to cut off the top of the tree.  As they continued down the tree, the branches were bigger, so it was slower and harder to cut.  Then it was lunch time, and Ray and his boys came down from the tree.  The wind started to pick up.  After lunch they were back at it, cutting the branches.  This job was really hard.  Ray decided that he should make the big final cut to bring down the tree since it was so windy.  When he did, the tree started creaking and groaning… toward the Kruger’s house.  This was not good!  My husband ran cross the street to our neighbor Jim, as he had the thick, orange glow-in-the-dark rope that never breaks.  Never.  Jim grabbed his rope, ran over to the tree, and wrapped it around and around.  Now, there were five strong men ready to pull that tree.  And they did.  But, the orange rope went ‘snap, snap, snap’.

This was an emergency.  The tree was falling the wrong way.  What do you do when there is an emergency?  Yes, call 911.  I did.  The Fire Chief, Mike Aimen, arrived immediately in his fire truck.  He looked over everything, then shook his head.  He said, “I cannot help you.  The only one who can help is the Tree Man”.  I called the Tree Man right away, explaining how our tree might crash onto the Kruger’s house.  He arrived in a flash, looked very serious, and didn’t say a word.  Immediately he went to work.  My husband said, “Jennie, leave.  Take the children and go.  Something terrible might happen.”  He was right.  What if the tree crashed on our house?  Or, what if it crashed on the Kruger’s house?  I took our children to McDonald’s for dinner.  When I returned it was dark.  The Tree Man was up high in a cherry picker, and the Fire Chief had his truck positioned so that the big spotlight shined on the tree.  All the neighbors stayed to watch.  It was windy, dark and very scary.  I went inside to get sleeping bags to sleep downstairs, in case the tree landed on the house.  Suddenly I felt the ground shake and heard a low rumble.  The tree had fallen into our backyard.  Whew!

The Tree Man came inside, scowled, and pointed his finger.  He said, “I didn’t think I could save the tree.  You were lucky.  Never, ever have someone cut down a tree unless they are a professional Tree Man.”  He was right.”

Children are on the edge of their seats when I add sounds and movements, such as moving my arm at the creaking of the tree in the wind, or snapping my fingers when the orange rope breaks.  I hope you are enjoying my ‘summer of storytelling’.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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