Tuesday, June 4, 2013

In the Tree House, by Andrew Larsen (illustrated by Dušan Petričić)

In the Tree House
Author: Andrew Larsen
Illustrator: Dušan Petričić
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
In the Tree House was not what I expected. I had previously been rather hard on artist Dušan Petričić after he illustrated a new edition of Robert Munsch's Mud Puddle. (It wasn't that it was bad, I was just partial to the original drawings by Sami Suomalainen.) But this book could not have been more different. The illustrations reminded me of a cross between Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree and Pat Shewchuk's In Lucia's Neighborhood (illustrated by Marek Colek). They are lush and textured and rich and simple, all at once. My partner and I enjoyed reading this to our three-year-old as much as she enjoyed hearing it.
The story is very sweet, and also struck a chord with me as an adult, as much as it did with my child. It's about a boy who lives in a city (or well-lit town or suburb) and dreams of building a tree house and gazing up at the stars in the night sky. The latter dream may not be possible, since the street lights in his neighbourhood make it difficult to see any stars, but he does get to build the tree house, with the help of his dad and his brother. The story is about their relationship with each other, the neighbourhood and the night sky, as much as it is about the tree house.

In the Tree House made me nostalgic for my own childhood, which included stars, tree houses and older siblings who grew up so much faster than I did. My daughter liked this book, but I loved it.

Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.

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