About The Tennis Ball Trees

This is a whimsical story about a chocolate Labrador Retriever’s love of tennis balls. It’s a short story with a surprise ending.




I really enjoyed reading The Tennis Ball Trees to the students of Hall-Dale Elementary School on Friday, March 31st and the afternoon of Monday, April 3rd, 2017 in celebration of “Read Across America” and the “Read to ME Challenge” campaign. This is my third year participating in the “Read Across America” event – 2014 at Pittston Elementary School and 2016 at the Helen Thompson School in West Gardiner. It’s both fun and inspiring to interact with the students to share my experience and respond to their questions. Many thanks to Terri Pelletier, a friend and Hall-Dale Kindergarten teacher, for coordinating arrangements.

A surprise bonus edition

How did there come to be two editions of the same story?  The author is the same.  The text is the same with the exception of some minor edits.  But the illustrations and the publishers are different.

I originally wrote the text for the Tennis Ball Tree story in 2000, but I did not pursue getting it published until 2013 when I learned of Maine Authors Publishing, a self publishing company in Rockland, Maine.  I conceived a secret project to publish the book as a surprise early Christmas present to give to my four grown children and eight grandchildren when we would be together on Thanksgiving Day.

Unbeknownst to me, during the same time period in which I was working with Maine Authors Publishing, my son Joel had secretly decided to get The Tennis Ball Tree published on my behalf as a surprise present for me.  He had the text in a Word document I had given him a couple of years earlier.  Since I hadn’t moved forward on publishing the story I had written in 2000, Joel thought this would be a special gift.  He used a self publishing website and lined up an illustrator.  His timetable was virtually identical to mine – he planned to present me with this surprise gift at Thanksgiving dinner.

As one might imagine, Thanksgiving Day was very full of surprises for our family.  Either way we look at it, we now have a “surprise bonus edition” of the Tennis Ball Tree book.




Fannie with the author

Fannie with the author

CHRISTOPHER LOCKWOOD loves tennis and would bring used tennis balls home to Fannie, his chocolate Labrador Retriever, who was the inspiration for this story. When his children were younger, he enjoyed reading bedtime stories to them, but sometimes he fell asleep reading the longer stories. The kids would call downstairs, “Mom, Dad fell asleep again.” It’s fitting that his first children’s book is lighthearted and very short! He lives in Hallowell, Maine with his wife Cindy, and Lucy, his yellow Lab, and Nixon, his orange and white cat, who both enjoy playing with tennis balls. He has four adult children and ten grandchildren. Chris can be reached at clockwood46@gmail.com.


KATHLEEN FOX is an artist, writer and professor living and working in coastal Maine.