The Better Tree Fort


The Better Tree Fort

When Russell’s family moves to a new house, he has a great idea for the backyard: build an amazing fort in the giant maple tree.

Russell’s dad doesn’t know much about building, but he gamely gives it his best as he attempts to follow Russell’s elaborate plan. Several trips to the lumber store later, the tree fort is finally done. There is no slide, balcony or skylight like Russell imagined, but it is perfect — right up until he notices another tree fort being built three houses over.

He stood at the bottom of the better tree fort. It was so large, it blocked the sun.

When Russell visits the fort down the street with all the bells and whistles he imagined, Russell starts to wonder whether happiness comes from the fanciest fort or somewhere else.

The Better Tree Fort will be released in French in the Fall 2018.


Leng’s playful artwork, in loose ink lines casually filled with naturalistic color washes, is a warm complement to this sweet, supportive father-and-son story. Its message of what matters most—including love and spending time
together—is one many readers will welcome.” Booklist, March, 2018.

“The Better Tree Fort is the author’s first picture book after numerous acclaimed middle school novels, and her trademark humour and gentle wisdom rings pitch perfect in the new form. A witty tale about the dangers of keeping up with the Joneses, it’s always fun and never preachy, grounded in relatable and lovable Russell.” Open Book, February, 2018. 

“Kerrin’s story of father-son love is endearing and warm-spirited. Leng’s ink, watercolor, and pencil-crayon illustrations are softly hued, fluid, and filled with enough details to engage readers. Time together is truly wonderful for one father and son.” Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2018

Field Notes

Jessica was interviewed about the inspiration for this picture book. Qin Leng was also interviewed about her artwork.

  • Cover used by permission of Groundwood Books. Text copyright © 2018 Jessica Scott Kerrin; jacket art and illustrations copyright © 2018 Qin Leng