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…Treehouses!

Not really the right time of the year for this topic…but maybe as you’re huddled by the fireplace or your radiator, you might enjoy reading about these adventures in the (warmer!) outdoors.  And once you thaw out from this winter blast, maybe you could stop by the library and check out a book about building a tree house in the spring!

In case you don’t remember, our 5 Books Featuring are five related Books–One Old, One New, One Popular with Kids, One Well-Reviewed, and One Favorite of library staff–but you’ll have to guess which is which! Each book has a short synopsis and link to the book in the catalog, so you can easily find and request it.

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Graff, Lisa.  The Great Treehouse WarThe Great Treehouse Wargreat treehouse war
Winnie’s last day of fourth grade ended with a pretty life-changing surprise. That was the day Winnie’s parents got divorced and decided that Winnie would live three days a week with each of them and spend Wednesdays by herself in a treehouse between their houses, to divide her time perfectly evenly. Too bad no one consulted Winnie.
By the end of fifth grade, Winnie decides that the only way to change things is to barricade herself in her treehouse until her parents come to their senses–and her friends decide to join. It’s kids vs. grown-ups, and no one wants to back down first. But with ten kids in one treehouse, all with their own demands, things get pretty complicated! Even if they are having the most epic slumber party ever.

Griffiths, Andy.  The 13-Story Treehouse13 story treehouse
Andy and Terry live in the most amazing treehouse in the world!   It has thirteen stories, a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a secret underground laboratory, and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and automatically shoots marshmallows into your mouth whenever you are hungry.  Life would be perfect for Andy and Terry if it wasn’t for the fact that they have to write their next book, which is almost impossible because there are just so many distractions, including thirteen flying cats, giant bananas, mermaids, a sea monsters pretending to be mermaids, enormous gorillas, and dangerous burp gas-bubblegum bubbles!  (If you read the whole series, you’ll find out that the boys will get up to 91 stories…)

Kimmel, Haven.  Kaline Klattermaster’s Tree Housekaline klattermasters
Kaline Klattermaster loves his mom. Adores his mom. But she can be, well…a bit forgetful sometimes. A bit lax. A bit…crazy? For instance, when she gives him a chicken leg for breakfast…or forgets that he needs to go to school. And he’s not completely sure his mother understands how time works.
His mom has been  a bit more crazy since his dad left. So it’s a very good thing that the folks in Kaline’s tree house are not so crazy.  The two brothers and one hundred dogs that live in his tree house–and his strange neighbor Mr. Osiris Putnaminski–help him cope. They understand him.  His mom hints that the tree house is imaginary, but Kaline is unconvinced. Kaline Klattermaster is a boy who understands the importance of a few good friends!

Roberts, Willo Davis.  The View From the Cherry Treeview from the cherry tree 2
Rob is the youngest in his family, and is used to being ignored.  But with his older sister getting married, and everyone wrapped up in wedding preparations, Rob is left to his own devices even more than usual.  He doesn’t mind though, he kind of enjoys sitting up in his perch way up in the cherry tree, looking down on everyone while he remains unseen.
But when Rob looks over at Mrs. Calloway’s house, he sees something he never expected; the murder of his elderly neighbor.  Rob tries to tell his family, but no one believes him.  No one, but the murderer.  Rob didn’t see his face, but now he has to figure out who it is, before he’s the next victim.

Wyss, Johann David.  The Swiss Family Robinsonswiss family robinson
A terrible shipwreck; a deserted island. One family will emerge alive from this terrible storm: the Robinsons–a Swiss pastor, his wife, and their four sons, plus two dogs and a shipload of livestock.  As they struggle to create a new life on a strange and fantastic tropical island home, each boy must learn to utilize his own unique nature.   Their adventures lead to difficult challenges and amazing discoveries, including a puzzling message tied to an albatross’s leg. Featuring amazingly resourceful characters and a wondrous landscape bursting with exotic wildlife and plants, (as well as a treehouse home!) this is an irresistible tale of ingenuity.  A wonderful adventure, where each moment brings a new thrill.
If the original is too old-fashioned in language and style, try the Classic Starts version by Chris Tait.  It retains the flavor of the original for modern readers.

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Stay warm in this cold as you enjoy these tropical (and not-so-tropical) adventures!

::Kelly::