Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House

Haven Kimmel, Author, Peter Brown, Illustrator
Haven Kimmel, Author, Peter Brown, Illustrator , illus. by Peter Brown. Simon & Schuster $15.99 (152p) ISBN 978-0-689-87402-4
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-689-87403-1
Prebound-Glued - 152 pages - 978-0-606-14510-7
Ebook - 160 pages - 978-1-4169-9915-7
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At the beginning of third grade, Kaline Klattermaster has a lot of troubles. His father has disappeared from home, and Kaline's ditzy mother won't say where he is. At school Kaline is tormented by bullies and needs to follow all sorts of rules, such as keeping his bottom on his seat and writing “consistently” with the same hand. When things become overwhelming, Kaline escapes into an imaginary world, where he has a magnificent tree house and two friendly older brothers. In her children's fiction debut, bestselling novelist Kimmel (A Girl Named Zippy ) creates some memorable moments, especially near the end, when Kaline bonds with Mr. Osiris Putnaminski, his eccentric white-haired neighbor, who looks “like a CRAZY SANTA CLAUS” and provides help when it's needed most. However, the narrative abruptly jumps from Kaline's fantasies to his down-to-earth concerns about family and school; the shifts are problematic and confusing. Gimmicky devices (like the frequent use of capitalization) are more distracting than effective, and at times Kaline comes off as much younger than his years. His mispronunciation of words (“pangemonia,” “The Declamation of Inkpendence”) and academic struggles contradict the precociousness offered as an explanation for his having started school a year early; if anything he seems to have some sort of disability. However much readers may sympathize with Kaline's circumstances, they are likely to have trouble relating to the character and understanding what makes him tick. Illustrations not seen by PW . Ages 7-12. (Feb.)

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