Treehouse Town

Little, Brown. Feb. 2024. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316592628.
PreS-Gr 2–Like the best of Robert Louis Stevenson, Sterer’s worldbuilding is unmatched as he creates spaces where children and beasts dwell side-by-side, working, bickering, feasting, and laughing as captains of industry, from smallest to largest, in a realm hidden high up in the trees. Working in graphite, colored pencil, watercolor, and marker, Mylie surpasses the language, finding thousands of small corners to nest small creatures, putting children of every skin tone, size, and shape into upside-down umbrellas that float across taut lines or bentwood chairs that zip through green eaves, showing elephants hauling, raccoons flipping bread in a restaurateur’s dream kitchen (if the restaurateur did not mind a bark motif), and ropes and pulleys put into service in endlessly inventive ways. From dawn to sunset and beyond, there is no lack of intention, for children have much to do in a day before their dreams take them elsewhere. The only lapse is in some of the rhymes; these don’t always reward with the flawless scansion readers expect from Sterer.
VERDICT When the ideas are lofty, and the pictures airborne with good will, it’s heartbreaking that somewhere along the way, the text became earthbound.

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