Book & Audio Review: The Great Treehouse War

Have you ever wanted to have your own treehouse?  In this book, Winnie had never really thought about it.  But once she had the absolutely most perfect treehouse, in the biggest tree in the state, it was hers, and hers alone.  Or was it..?

Be careful what you wish for…

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great treehouse warThe Great Treehouse War
By Lisa Graff, Read by Ariana Delawari with a Full Cast
4 CDs; 4 hours, 11 minutes

Winnie life was pretty normal right up until the last day of fourth grade.  Sure, her parents were fighting a lot, and didn’t really listen to each other, but other kids had problems too, right?  Then, on the last day of school, her parents sat her down on the x marked in the exact center of the sofa and sat on either side of her to tell her they were getting a divorce.  But both her parents assured her that they still loved her, and that splitting Winnie’s time equally between them was important.

So they sold the house Winnie had grown up in (through fourth grade), and each bought the only two houses on Circle Road, where the two backyards met, not far from Uncle Huck…her mother’s brother and her father’s best friend.  Between the backyards was a giant linden tree, not on either parents’ property.  It was perfect for them–Winnie (and her cat Buttons) could spend Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays with her mom;  Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays with her dad, and every Wednesday, she and Buttons would live by themselves in the treehouse designed and built by Uncle Huck.  Her parents thought it was perfect.  Winnie wasn’t so sure.

But at first it didn’t seem too bad.  Winnie loved her round treehouse, with its own kitchen and living room, bathroom and loft.  And she really enjoyed having a day to herself, with just Buttons for company.  Her parents were even being pretty cool with the equal time thing.

But then Winnie’s mom realized that Winnie would be celebrating Thanksgiving with her father.  So she decided to create another celebration to make up for no Thanksgiving; Flag Day.  Winnie was more confused than happy about the over-the-top celebration, but told her mother it was fun.  And then her dad saw them out in their yard from his back window; so he got into the act with World UFO Day.  Suddenly, both her parents started trying to outdo each other with daily parties, events and field trips when they had Winnie, to make up for each celebration she got to spend with the other.   From International Tongue Twister Day to Ice Cream Sandwich Day to Flossing Day to Cow Appreciation Day to Peach Day, the celebrations started growing and growing and growing…and getting totally out of hand.

Winnie’s frustration also started growing.  As both parents spend the whole afternoon and evening celebrating weird holidays with her on “their” days, Winnie finds less and less time to do her homework, until she was spending Wednesday doing all her homework as well as catching up with her sleep.   It didn’t work as well as she thought, since by February she was falling asleep at her desk during school.  But the last straw was when Mr. B, her teacher, told her she was in danger of flunking fifth grade.

Or no, the real last straw was when her father decided that she was going to spend the summer with him collecting animal feces for examination in the desert, and her mother said that she would then take over all the Wednesdays until summer, to equal out Winnie’s time.  No. Way.  Winnie was not going to lose her only peaceful day.  It was time to declare war!

Winnie got all the supplies she needed and went up to the treehouse, with no intention of coming down until her parents talked to each other.  Her friends were supportive and helpful, keeping up her morale and providing her with supplies.  And as Winnie’s parents decided to wait her out,  one by one each of her friends decided that they also had issues with their parents.  Winnie needed the support, and they needed to raise issues as well.  Before she knew it, Winnie was joined by Squizzy and Lyle and Tabitha and Greta and Joey and Brogan and Aayush  and Logan.  Things get complicated pretty quickly and teachers and television reporters and kids around the world get involved.  It’s kids vs. parents in The Great Treehouse War!  Who will win?  Read and find out.

great treehouse war audioThe audio for The Great Treehouse War is produced as a full cast recording.  As the story begins, Winnie narrates the action,  each of the characters–kids and adults– have a different actor narrating their part of the story.  This works very well for this book because much of the print story is told through letters, books, Declarations, comic strips, clippings, calendars, homework, school reports and notes.  I actually love full cast audio recordings–narrations from a single, great reader are absolutely wonderful,  but occasionally having voice acting from a cast of several people is just amazing.  Since there were different voices, the story felt like it went faster, and listeners know exactly who speaking at any time.  The voices are wonderful, as is the acting.

With that said, if you haven’t read the book and are only listening to the audio version of The Great Treehouse War, make sure that you pick up a copy of the book to look through.  All the documents and notes and school assignments are funny, and the quirky hand-drawn artwork adds so much to the personalities to each of the characters.

The Great Treehouse War is written for ages 8 – 12, but it could be listened to by kids (and adults) of all ages. Lisa Graff is a very popular author; some of her other books are A Clatter of Jars, A Tangle of Knots and Absolutely, Almost.  The Great Treehouse War is one of her funnier ones.  So what are you waiting for?  Try it!  You’ll like it!

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So there you are!  If you enjoy humorous fiction and stories about friends, you’ll enjoy this book.  Kids who liked books by Kate Klise like Regarding the Fountain and Letters from Camp will also enjoy this book.  Fans of ongoing conflicts between friends or families, like Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s The Boy/Girl Battle or Jacqueline Davies’ Lemonade War series will enjoy this book. Fans of Peggy Giffords’ Moxy Maxwell series will like this book.

Some other humorous full-cast recordings at the library:
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
The Great Christmas Kidnapping Caper by Jean Van Leeuwen
House of Robots by Chris Grabbenstein and James Patterson

If you would like help finding these or any other books in the library, just ask us!  All our librarians are happy to match you with the perfect book or audio–any time, any day!  And until then…

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

 

great treehouse war detail

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5 Books Featuring…

Our new feature…five books on a specific topic, with a short synopsis and link to the book in the catalog. 5 Books–One Old, One New, One Popular with Kids, One Well-Reviewed, and One Favorite. (But you’ll have to guess which is which)!

This week…we all know Mary Poppins, but did you know there are several other famous (or infamous!) magical nannies and babysitters in kids books?  Here are 5…

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5 Books Featuring…Magical Nannies!

Bland, Christianna.  The Collected Tales of Nurse Matildanurse matilda
Mr. and Mrs. Brown were forever having trouble with their numerous and incredibly naughty children . . . until the day Nurse Matilda entered their lives. The Brown children are terribly, terribly, unbelievably naughty. All the nannies and nursery-maids and governesses in the directory are called upon to implement some kind of order in the house but, inevitably, they are soon driven to distraction and of course leave having had absolutely no positive effect on the children’s indefatigable resource of mischief and anti-social conduct – all much to Mr and Mrs Brown’s horror and dismay. But apparently there is one last resort…Nurse Matilda.
A contemporary of Mary Poppins, Nurse Matilda became Nanny McPhee in the movies.  (But the books are better!)

Fisher, Isla.  Marge in Chargemarge in charge
Jemima and Jake Button don’t know what to make of their new babysitter, Marge: She’s not tall enough to ride a rollercoaster and, when she first arrives, she’s dressed like a grandma and looks very serious. But as soon as Mommy and Dad are gone, mischievous Marge lets down her rainbow hair and the adventures begin. Jemima and Jake aren’t supposed to shoot apple juice out of water guns, eat pancakes off the ceiling, or throw impromptu concerts during music class–but with Marge here, everything’s gone topsy-turvy! Can they have this much fun and still finish everything on Mommy’s list before their parents come home to discover what’s been going on?
In these three madcap stories, featuring zany illustrations by Eglantine Ceulemans, it’s obvious that everything’s way more fun when Marge is in charge.

Green, Phyllis.  Eating Ice Cream with a Werewolfeating ice cream with a werewolf
Brad knows that Phoebe Hadley isn’t a monster, but she’s definitely not your run-of-the-mill babysitter either.  She likes to try things when she’s taking care of Brad and his sister, Fat Nancy. So it’s no surprise that she arrives with Dr. Curmudgeion’s Book of Magic when their parents go to Bermuda. Neither Phoebe nor Brad expect much when they cast their first spell, but a week of mysterious coincidences gives Brad a healthy respect for Dr. Curmudgeon and Phoebe.  Is it magic?  Or just happenstance?
Quirky drawings by Patti Stren and some judicious application of imagination will make this a fun read-aloud for families.

Spratt, R. A.  The Adventures of Nanny Pigginsnanny piggins
The woman was not a woman. She was a pig. A common, pink farm pig. The type bacon came from.”Good evening, I am Nanny Piggins,” said Nanny Piggins the pig.
When stingy Mr. Green planted a Nanny Wanted sign on his front lawn for his three children, he had no idea his ad would be answered by a pig. A fabulously sassy and impeccably dressed pig! With her insatiable urge to eat chocolate (and feed chocolate to everyone she loves), her high-flying spirit, and her unending sense of fun, Nanny Piggins takes Derrick, Samantha, and Michael on a year of surprises, yummy treats, and adventures they’ll never forget.
Paired with Dan Santat’s charming illustrations, comedian and children’s TV writer R.A. Spratt’s wildly funny debut novel will have adults and kids alike laughing and rooting for the feisty porcine nanny and her three lovable human charges.

Wood, Maryrose.  The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howlingincorrigible children of ashton place
Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.
Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.  But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance’s holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?
Humorous antics and a climactic cliff-hanger ending will keep children turning pages and clamoring for the next volume, while more sophisticated readers will take away much more. Frequent plate-sized illustrations by Jon Klassen add wit and period flair.

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There you have it…five mysterious and magical nannies!  And that’s not even bringing in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Amelia Bedelia, Mrs. Noodlekugel,  Mr. Pudgins, or even the BFG!
If you would like your own fantastic 5 Book suggestions, stop by the Library and ask one of our librarians for assistance!  We’re happy to help you find anything on any topic.  Until then…Happy Reading!
::Kelly::