Friday, April 4, 2014

Learning from Picture Books: In the Tree House

I'm continuing with my goal of reading all of the nominees for the 2014 Blue Spruce Award from the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading. Other nominees I've featured so far include Oddrey by Dave Whammond (OwlKids Books), I Dare You Not to Yawn by Helene Boudreau (Candlewick Press), A Good Trade by Alma Fullerton (Pajama Press) and Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds.

In the Tree House

written by Andrew Larsen

illustrated by Dusan Petricic

published by Kids Can Press, 2013

From Amazon:

An evocative story about two brothers who are growing up (one faster than the other), an unusual summer night and a special tree house that proves childhood is not just a time but also a place.       

My Thoughts as a Writer:

I think many children dream of having their own tree house -- I know I definitely did!  It was really interesting the way this book took a beloved place (or idea of a place) and built a story around it. The author includes lots of sensory details in simple language that is perfect for young children. I liked the way there were layers to the story with the emotion of the changing relationship between the main character and his brother. The illustrations capture the personality of the tree house as well as the characters.

My Thoughts as a Teacher:

This book offered many possibilities for making inferences (e.g., Why did they have to eat the ice cream during the blackout?) and personal connections (e.g., Have you ever experienced a blackout?). This book could be used to start discussions about siblings or changing friendships, loneliness, and things to do when you don’t have the use of technology.

It would be fun to have students draw their own plans for an ideal tree house. 

Looking for other great picture books to use in your classroom or to read with your children? Check out these recommendations for Perfect Picture Books over at Susanna Leonard Hill's site.


  1. Oh man, the idea of a tree house is so conflicting. :) I'd love the coziness and the hideaway aspects, but as far as climbing a tree, it's a no-go. I know of a writer who writes in a tree house. Honestly, I'd be so worried about getting down again safely that I'm not sure I'd be able to write!

    1. I've always been intrigued by the idea of having a tree house, though I can't imagine writing in one. I'd be too distracted! But someday I hope to include a tree house as a setting in one of my books.


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