cover image House Held Up by Trees

House Held Up by Trees

Ted Kooser, illus. by Jon Klassen. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5107-7

A man who lives in a small white house keeps his lawn tidy and free of tree seedlings while his two children play in the woods at the edge of the property. But the children grow up, the man abandons the house, and the trees he tried to defeat take over; after many years, they lift the house slowly but surely off the ground. Former poet laureate Kooser observes the slowly unfolding events in limpid prose, while Klassen (I Want My Hat Back), working with a Wyeth-like palette of winter browns and grays, shows the house, the father, and his children from many angles, but almost always from a distance, as the trees must see them. As in Kooser’s first picture book, Bag in the Wind, themes of isolation and mankind’s sometimes uneasy relationship with the natural world are prominent. Young readers may not know what to make of the story, though they will recognize the futility of trying to fight nature’s onslaught. The magic is in the trees’ final deed, and the story is a long prologue to it. Ages 4–10. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Mar.)