Spring is here, and there’s no better time to celebrate our “Tree-mendous Friends,” the marvelous trees that surround us, beloved sentries stretching their limbs to hold us close and beautify our world.
By Oliver Jeffers
Belly laughs will abound when you read “Stuck,” a zany tale written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, who gets it right every time he writes!
This time around his subject is Floyd, a little boy with a big problem. Set to have a nice day flying his kite, it becomes tangled in a tall, leafy tree. Floyd tries to tug on it but it’s totally stuck. A real problem solver, the kid doesn’t collapse in tears. Floyd takes action, giving the heave-ho to his shoe to knock his kite free. But it’s not a sole survivor. The shoe gets lodged in a branch too.
From there it’s all downhill, as Floyd tosses everything up, up, up, objects becoming more ridiculous by the minute — Mitch the cat, a ladder to get the cat down, a bucket of paint, an orangutan — everything goes skyward, even the kitchen sink.
After a day of tossing and hurling, Floyd’s problem is finally solved in a most unique way. This picture book gets a capital “C” for creativity.
‘House Held Up by Trees’
By Ted Kooser
You’ll want to hug a tree when you finish, “House Held Up by Trees,” by former Poet Laureat Ted Kooser, a perfect book for National Poetry Month. Get ready to have your heartstrings plucked at the generational tale of a plot of land that’s been cleared to build a new house.
Alongside that lot, were woodlands that sent seeds floating on the wind, babies that tried to take root in the yard where a little boy and girl lived, and a father so bent on having the best lawn ever that he mowed down all the saplings in his path.
The man’s drive for a perfect lawn continues through the years as the boy and girl grow up and he grows old. Tending the yard soon becomes too much for him, and the house and empty lot are put up for sale.
Too bad, so sad, no one wants the property — other than nature. She finally has her way, and the woodland seeds have their day, their slow, steady takeover simply and beautifully illustrated by Jon Klassen, of Caldecott fame.
By Adina Rishe Gewirtz
The woods behind their house provide solace for 11-year-old Annie and her little brother Rew in a thriller that unfolds during the Iran hostage crisis. You’ll hold your breath reading “Zebra Forest” by Adina Rishe Gewirtz.
The forest is a leafy oasis, a hideaway that changes with the season and separates the children’s ramshackle house from a state prison on the outskirts of Sunshine, population 2,000.
Annie and Rew don’t have it easy. Their mother deserted them when they were small and their dad was “killed by an angry man.” That’s what their dad’s mom tells them. Gran cares for them, if you can call it that. She isn’t well, often escapes to her room for days, leaving the shopping to Annie, and mold growing on dishes in the kitchen.
Gran also doesn’t much care if the kids go to school, but Annie is a good student nonetheless, and careful to tell the lies that keep her out of trouble with the truant officer that comes to check on her and Rew when they skip classes.
Late one night, someone breaks into their house and the children’s lives are jettisoned into chaos — suddenly another hostage situation has developed — one of danger, love and confusion.