Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pick of the Week: House Held Up By Trees by Ted Kooser

House Held Up By Trees by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press, 2012)

*Starred Review* Though there's a family involved, the real star of this multilayered modern parable is a plot of land. A father and two children live in a little house on a perfectly groomed spot. The father mows the lawn and pulls the sproutlings left by nearby trees with relentless determination while the kids play in the lush neighboring woods. The family eventually moves on, and over the years the abandoned house falls apart bit by bit, quietly and sadly. But there's magic at play here, as the trees' seeds take root and grow and grip the house and ever so slowly lift it from the ground high into the air. Just as the trees are pushed out by the man in the first half, the artwork initially functions as stoic background for the story, with wide-angle perspectives filled with plenty of open space and muted colors. But in the second part, as the trees take over, Klassen's compositions command more and more attention, elbowing the text into the periphery and subtly reinforcing the themes in play. The final picture of the house held aloft by innumerable branches attests to the slow, resolute power of nature, and Kooser's poetic writing lands on a quiet, beautiful coda: it floats there like a tree house, a house in the trees, a house held together by the strength of trees. Unfolding with uncommon grace, the environmental heart of this story is revealed obliquely but powerfully.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist (review provided by Syndetics, Inc.)

Happy Earth Day tomorrow!

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