Cover image for The tree of bells
The tree of bells
Thesman, Jean.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999.
Physical Description:
232 pages ; 22 cm
While living in a boardinghouse managed by her mother and grandmother in Seattle in 1922, sixteen-year-old Clare decides her future at a time of limited opportunities for women.
General Note:
Companion to: The ornament tree.
Reading Level:
690 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.8 7.0 30834.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.1 12 Quiz: 24714 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In this delightful sequel to The Ornament Tree, Bonnie leaves for college, but before she leaves she urges Clare to keep her dangerous secret from the loving, unconventional family who lives in the big, old Seattle boarding house. But Bonnie's secret is not all that concerns Clare. While letters bring word of her cousin's determined pursuit of a medical career, Clare wonders about her own future. She does not have Bonnie's fierce ambition, and she is unsure of what she wants for herself. She is in love with a man she believes loves someone else, and it often seems that everyone takes her for granted. But when Clare finds an abused child and his dog, their perilous world shows her where she is needed, and a mysterious young man shows her where she is wanted.

Author Notes

Jean Thesman is the author of more than a dozen books for young readers. She makes her home with her husband in Bothell, Washington.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-10. Very much a sequel to The Ornament Tree (1996), this starts off slowly as we get reacquainted with the family of strong Deveraux women and their boarding-house guests in Seattle in the 1920s. Bonnie is now off on a dangerous trip to China before starting medical school, and the viewpoint has shifted to her quiet, younger cousin, Claire, who at 16 decides that she doesn't want far-off adventure and a blazing career but rather independence and self-sufficiency at home. Through Claire's eyes, we see the attraction of her lively, politically active community, led by her "ferocious" women relatives who fight injustice and help the poor, and who do it with style. No one is idealized, neither the women nor those they help, including a small boy and his dog, who find shelter in the boarding house. Best of all is the half-reluctant romance that grows between Claire and one of the guests, a warm, cranky, partially blinded World War I veteran who loves her. --Hazel Rochman

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7-9-Readers of Thesman's The Ornament Tree (Houghton, 1996) will enjoy catching up with the happenings at the slightly down-at-the-heels yet genteel boarding house in Seattle during the 1920s. Clare, the 16-year-old granddaughter of the proprietor, is left behind when her cousin Bonnie returns to college. Sworn to secrecy about Bonnie's plans to do medical missionary work in China in order to help her gain entry into medical school, Clare wonders why she has no desire for the adventurous life her cousin has chosen. Meanwhile, Clare is attracted to a blind, cynical young man who seems to view her as a child. Then the Ornament Tree, on which the family members have been placing notes containing their wishes, is felled by a storm. Although it is soon replaced by a tree upon which bells are hung along with hopes, things take a turn for the worse. A boy the family had rescued from a bad situation runs away to rejoin his abusive father; Clare's best friend contemplates leaving town rather than being forced into marriage; and word arrives that Bonnie has been seriously wounded in China. Although Thesman's rather repetitive message is that education and self-sufficiency are the best remedies for social ills, she structures Clare to be a more traditional, home-loving female than Bonnie. While the plot lacks the punch and pace of the previous book, fans of the characters will probably be interested in learning more about them.-Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.