In the Tree House by A. Larsen, D. Petričić, & Y. Ghione
Larsen, Andrew, Dušan Petričić, and Yvette Ghione. In the Tree House. Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2013. Print.
Inspired in part by the author’s childhood dreams of building a treehouse, Andrew Larsen relates the story of a young boy who designs and builds a treehouse with his older brother and father. He and his brother spend an idyllic summer playing games, reading comics, and hanging out. But the next summer is different. The boy discovers that it’s not much fun to have the treehouse to himself when his brother is busy spending time with friends. As he sits disconsolately in the treehouse, an unexpected blackout provides a different perspective on the neighbourhood and the boy’s older sibling joins him in the treehouse, where they recapture some of the previous summer, sipping lemonade, reading comics by flashlight, and playing card games. This connection persists even after the power comes back on.
Larsen’s spare writing skillfully conveys the heaviness of the summer heat and evokes the feelings of excitement, of dreaming and fulfilling a dream, of exclusion and loneliness as siblings grow apart, the disappointment of having something but no one to share it with, and a longing for the past. Dušan Petričić’s pen and ink illustrations complement the text beautifully.
This book is aimed at children 3-6 years of age, but the content will strike a chord for older readers and reminiscing adults alike. The story reminded me of John Rocco’s Blackout, in which a power outage is an event that brings busy family members and their neighbourhood closer together.
Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Maria Tan
Maria is a Public Services Librarian at the University of Alberta’s H. T. Coutts Education Library. She enjoys travelling and visiting unique and far-flung libraries. An avid foodie, Maria’s motto is, “There’s really no good reason to stop the flow of snacks”.