Synopses & Reviews
From Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Ted Kooser and rising talent Jon Klassen comes a poignant tale of loss, change, and nature's quiet triumph.
When the house was new, not a single tree remained on its perfect lawn to give shade from the sun. The children in the house trailed the scent of wild trees to neighboring lots, where thick bushes offered up secret places to play. When the children grew up and moved away, their father, alone in the house, continued his battle against blowing seeds, plucking out sprouting trees. Until one day the father, too, moved away, and as the empty house began its decline, the trees began their approach. At once wistful and exhilarating, this lovely, lyrical story evokes the inexorable passage of time — and the awe-inspiring power of nature to lift us up.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Though there's a family involved, the real star of this multilayered modern parable is a plot of land...the artwork initially functions as stoic background for the story, with wide-angle perspectives filled with plenty of open space and muted colors. But in the second part, as the trees take over, Klassen's compositions command more and more attention, elbowing the text into the periphery and subtly reinforcing the themes in play....Unfolding with uncommon grace, the environmental heart of this story is revealed obliquely but powerfully." Booklist (starred review)
"The former poet laureate Ted Kooser's House Held Up By Trees is a lyric, poetic story, stark but also imbued with a haunting beauty....Jon Klassen's illustrations are quiet, delicate and nuanced, amplifying the text in fresh, original ways through the use of unexpected angles and perspective." The New York Times
About the Author
Ted Kooser, the United States Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2006, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his book of poems Delights & Shadows
. He is the author of twelve full-length volumes of poetry and several books of nonfiction, and his work has appeared in many periodicals. Bag in the Wind
, illustrated by Barry Root, was his first picture book. Ted Kooser lives in Garland, Nebraska.
Jon Klassen is the author-illustrator of I Want My Hat Back. The first picture book he illustrated, Cats Night Out by Caroline Stutson, won the Governor General's Award for illustration in his native Canada. Jon Klassen now lives in Los Angeles.