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The Man in the Tree and the Brand New Start

A True Story about Zacchaeus and the Difference Knowing Jesus Makes

from 10 reviews

Teach children that genuine repentance and faith in Jesus leads to a transformed life.

Part of the Tales that Tell the Truth series.

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Zacchaeus was very short, very rich and not very happy, but his encounter with Jesus changed everything. 

In response to the grace Jesus showed him, Zacchaeus was transformed from the inside out. He repented, treasured Jesus above everything else, and showed kindness and generosity to others like never before.

Use this story to teach children that only following Jesus will make them truly happy and fulfilled, and that genuine repentance and faith is demonstrated by loving others. 

Written by Carl Laferton, author of The Garden, The Curtain and The Cross, God’s Big Promises Bible Storybook and The God Contest.

Product details


Age range: 3+
Contributors Carl Laferton, Catalina Echeverri
ISBN 9781784989644
Format Hardback
First published June 2024
Dimensions 220mm x 260mm x 10mm
Weight 0.44 kg
Language English
Pages 32
Publisher The Good Book Company

Ed Drew

Ministry Director, Faith in Kids; Author, Raising Confident Kids

I love this book, and I love the story of Zacchaeus. We need to give every child this story to show them that Jesus came for every child. As you read this with your kids, they’ll see and feel what a joy it is to belong to Jesus.

Kristyn Getty

Getty Music

I am grateful for books that help bring the true story of the Bible into the everyday spaces of a child’s life. This does that so wonderfully well!

Connie Dever

The story of Zacchaeus is a wonderful story of the changed heart and life that believing the gospel requires and that trusting in Jesus brings. Carl Laferton has done a wonderful job of communicating these truths to children and parents. Make sure to add this book to your collection of Tales That Tell the Truth!

Customer reviews

22 May 2024

“Colorful illustrations”

I found this book to be colorful and vibrant in its illustrations.
In my opinion, it is a cute retelling of the story of Zacchaeus, scratching the surface of the story found in the Bible, and would be appropriate for younger kids. However, I felt that the book primarily emphasizes the happiness that Jesus brings us, without delving into the challenges of following Him or the peace that comes from finding forgiveness in Christ.
The author does however include an additional explanation at the end of the book, referencing scripture, and the gospel, which I appreciated.

22 May 2024

“Wonderful Retelling”

This new installment in the Tales that Tell the Truth series retells the story of Zacchaeus. Although many of the other books in this series focus on lesser-known Bible stories that rarely appear in children's books, this one covers an extremely popular, familiar narrative while still feeling distinctive. Even though there are lots of different children's books about Zacchaeus, this one stands out because of the especially kid-friendly language, the fun illustrations from Catalina Echeverri, and the clear gospel message.

In this adaptation of the story, Carl Laferton explains that Zacchaeus wanted to be rich more than he wanted to be kind to others or obey God, but that after he met Jesus and experienced Jesus's grace and friendship, he had a change of heart and began behaving differently. The book highlights Zacchaeus's eventual justice and generosity to the people he had previously defrauded as a tax collector, shows that this kind of change is part of Jesus's mission, and then summarizes Jesus's sacrificial death and resurrection, and what this means for us today. The book ends by teaching kids that even though we all act like Zacchaeus sometimes, Jesus offers us salvation and empowers us to be kind to others.

This book will appeal to fans of this series, and to anyone who is looking for a good picture book about Zacchaeus. This will be great for families, churches, and Christian schools, and parents and teachers can also download free supplemental resources and activities from the publisher's website. This book will work well as a read-aloud with individual children and with groups, and it is a great way for adults to share important truths with kids.

Note: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

21 May 2024

“Another Wonderful Gospel-Centered Picture Book”

The latest in the "Tales that Tell the Truth" series is already a favorite with us. My kids enjoyed this fresh reading of the story of Zacchaeus. The illustrations are excellent. The focus on Jesus & His ministry is important. Definitely one to add to your home library!

21 May 2024

“Fun and Lively retelling of the story of Zacchaeus”

This newest addition to the Tales that Tell the Truth shares the story of the not-so-loved Zacchaeus climbing a sycamore tree to see Jesus. This encounter with Jesus changed everything for Zacchaeus.

"What had changed between Zacchaeus climbing up that tree and coming down that tree? HE HAD MET JESUS."

I love that the focus is on Christ and His work. Laferton does an excellent job at conveying biblical truth in an age appropriate way.

The illustrations are lively and fun! The text is simple yet engaging. The Gospel is shared, encouraging young readers to repent and believe.
[I received a copy in exchange for an honest review]

19 May 2024

“Wonderful book and amazing illustrations!”

This is one of our favorite series and we live the story of Zacchaeus. It is beautifully written and would make a wonderful gift! I love that these series always point to the Lord.

18 May 2024

“A joy to read aloud!”

“Zacchaeus wanted to be rich more than he wanted to be kind or to obey God.” But one day, he heard that was Jesus was coming through Jericho, and “suddenly Zacchaeus wanted, more than anything, to see Jesus.” There was only one problem… the crowds were big, and Zacchaeus was small. Nothing was going to stop him from seeing Jesus though, so, he climbed a tree. Then something incredible happened! Jesus looked up at Zacchaeus and said, “I would like to stay at your house today.”

The crowds could not believe that Jesus wanted to spend time with someone like Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus couldn’t believe it either, but after meeting Jesus, he decides he wants to give back more than he ever took from the people. What had changed Zacchaeus’s heart? He had met Jesus, and “now he just wanted to love Jesus.”

“Jesus had shown him a love he didn’t expect. Jesus had shown him a kindness he didn’t deserve.” Isn’t that how we all feel? Undeserving and grateful. This book shows kids that we are all like Zacchaeus, and we all need Jesus to be given a new life that will last forever! Thankfully, Jesus came to save the Zacchaeus’s of the world, and just like Zacchaeus you can turn from your sinful ways and obey God. There is no greater or more important lesson than this, and this story displays it in such a practical and understandable way for all ages.

As always, the “Tales that Tell the Truth Series” teaches gospel truths while staying entertaining and fun for the youngest readers. The messages are always clear and always point to Jesus, teaching kids to repent and believe if they want to be friends with Jesus forever! The illustrations are lively, colorful, and vibrant. This story was a joy to read aloud and would make a wonderful addition to your home library.

*I was sent this book by The Good Book Company in exchange for my honest review.*

16 May 2024

“a must read”

This was a wonderful retelling of a well known story! I love the unique parallels and insights given in this book. Like all Tales that Tell the Truth, the story is told with captivating words and pictures to draw the reader in, but this book had more practical application at the end than most in the series. I also really appreciated how many other Bible stories/references were tied in through the pictures. Another must read for the series!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.

15 May 2024

“wonderful for young kids”

This is another book in the Tales That Tell The Truth series. They have several books and I've had the opportunity to read many of them. They are wonderful short stories for young kids that recount powerful people and events throughout the Bible.

This particular story dives into Zacchaeus and his journey to meeting Jesus. Laferton does a great job recounting the biblical story in an engaging, simplistic way that young readers will enjoy. He then relates Zacchaeus' choices and characteristics to our daily lives. We, too, make choices that are unwise and disobedient but God desires more for us just as he did for Zacchaeus. He even includes a short, simple prayer for children to pray when they have realized their need for Jesus.

Laferton concludes the book with an additional explanation on how we know about Zacchaeus. He references the Scripture passage of Luke 18:31-33 and goes into more detail regarding his repentance, Jesus' forgiveness, and the command for all of us to repent and believe in the good news.

The illustrations are, of course, just as wonderful as all the other books.

This is a great book for young children to supplement their Scripture reading.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

14 May 2024

“This might be my favorite book from Carl Laferton so far.”

While I am not huge on a lot of the books I have read from Carl Laferton, this might be my favorite from him. A lot of his books seem very well loved, but I feel like he doesn't always present the Bible stories with clarity and takes some liberties with the stories.

What I liked about this one:
Firstly, the illustrations were eye catching to me! I really loved the color choices and fun depictions (especially of the peacock). I also liked that he seemed to stick closely to the story of Zacchaeus and shows children how Jesus really changed him by showing him kindness even though he was a sinner and not liked by others. I also appreciate the last part of the book that shares with children how they are in need of Jesus and how all we can do is say "Thank you Jesus. I'm sorry that I have not always obeyed you. I want to live with you as my Lord. I would love to be your friend."

What I disliked:
There is a sense I got from the book that it is focused on what Jesus does for us to make us happy. It doesn't really explain to kids that following Jesus will be hard at times or that finding forgiveness in Christ gives us peace with God. The author does state that when you are a follower of Jesus, "You can be happy deep down inside because you know the Lord Jesus loves you. And you can be kind and you can live how Jesus says because, more than anything, you love Jesus."
I just feel like this is missing elements of what it really means to be a believer. I think that in the attempt to be more understandable to children, it has lost some of the important detail of what being a follower of Jesus is all about.

I am still giving this book 4 stars though because overall I enjoyed it.

Note: there are depictions of Jesus.

Thank you @thegoodbookcompanyusa for a copy of this book for my honest thoughts!

12 May 2024

“Excellent Storybook and Beautiful Illustrations”

We LOVE this series of storybooks at our church as they're not too simplistic for older primary school children but they aren't too difficult for younger children. The illustrations are very expressive and clear, and they're accompanied by a really simple but engaging retelling of the story of Zacchaeus. This would make an excellent present for a child/grandchild/godchild or an addition for your church kids' library!

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The Man in the Tree and the Brand New Start | Carl Laferton, Catalina Echeverri |
£9.99 £7.99