Reviews for House Held Up By Trees

Booklist Reviews 2012 February #2
*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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
An abandoned house succumbs to the encroaching forest, which lifts it from its foundation and carries it into the canopy. The tension in this bittersweet elegy to the passage of time is matched by the soft, plain narrative and the somber, dappled watercolors. This book offers some simple and profound musings to contemplative young readers curious about the future and their role in it.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #2
A father and his two young children live in a small house on a quiet lot bordered by dense stands of noble, fragrant trees. The boy and the girl scramble and play in the thicket while their father tends to his precise lawn, mowing over the steady intrusion of saplings sprouted from seeds borne in on the wind. In time the children grow and leave, and so does their father. The house is abandoned. Dilapidated and forgotten, it relents, succumbing to the encroaching forest, which lifts the house from its foundation and carries it into the forest's canopy. This bittersweet tale is rife with tension, between young and old, order and chaos, yesterday and tomorrow. Poet Kooser's soft, plain narrative matches that tension, at once frank and nostalgic. Klassen's somber, dappled watercolors add to it, juxtaposing the house's rectilinear form against nature's organic shapes. He affords the house a parcel of compositional space, but the rust-tinged palette of muddy browns and greens makes clear the inevitable: nature will out. This quiet elegy to the passage of time offers some simple and profound musings to contemplative young readers curious about the future and their role in it. thom barthelmess Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 January #1

A man who lives in a small white house keeps his lawn tidy and free of tree seedlings while his two children play in the woods at the edge of the property. But the children grow up, the man abandons the house, and the trees he tried to defeat take over; after many years, they lift the house slowly but surely off the ground. Former poet laureate Kooser observes the slowly unfolding events in limpid prose, while Klassen (I Want My Hat Back), working with a Wyeth-like palette of winter browns and grays, shows the house, the father, and his children from many angles, but almost always from a distance, as the trees must see them. As in Kooser's first picture book, Bag in the Wind, themes of isolation and mankind's sometimes uneasy relationship with the natural world are prominent. Young readers may not know what to make of the story, though they will recognize the futility of trying to fight nature's onslaught. The magic is in the trees' final deed, and the story is a long prologue to it. Ages 4-10. Illustrator's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 May

Gr 3-5--A lyrical, melancholy prose text by former U.S. poet laureate Kooser is paired with ethereal illustrations to tell the story of a house and the family who once lived there. A man raises his daughter and son in a little house surrounded by lawn, which he keeps mowed and totally devoid of trees. But on each side, luxurious woods flourish, luring the children to explore the mysteries of nature. When they grow up and leave home, and the father becomes too old to care for the property, he moves to the city, abandoning the house, which no one wants to buy. As it falls into ruin, the seeds and pods so long squelched by the man's mowing begin to sprout and grow, some so close around the walls of the house that they keep it from falling down. Eventually they lift it off its foundation and raise it high above the ground "like a tree house...a house held together by the strength of trees...." A palette of muted browns, grays, and greens predominates in illustrations where the little white house and two iconic folding chairs out front suggest a subtext of loneliness and loss, even as strong verticals and occasional splashes of red lend a sense of hope. Varies perspectives provide strong visual interest and should keep older readers engaged in a story brimming with sadness and a touch of wonder and promise.--Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

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