Monday 21 May 2012

House Held Up By Trees

House Held Up by Trees House Held Up by Trees by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)
HB RRP $27.95
ISBN 9780763651077
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Ted Kooser’s first picture book was Bag in the Wind. He was the US Poet Laureate from 2004 till 2006 and won the Pulitzer prize for his poetry book, Delights and Shadows: Poems. This new impressive work reinforces his ability to tell a story so well you simply want to read it again.

House Held up by Trees spans the life of a man who built a house on a block that he totally cleared of bushland. The surrounding area was covered in different types of trees, but not a single sprouting plant was allowed within the space of land that the house occupied.

His two children grew up in that surrounding forest, discovering its magic, listening to the rustle of leaves and animals in the bushes. But they always returned to their pristine environment and the perfect lawn that their father worked so hard to keep. Although autumn loosened the leaves and seeds fell to the ground, the man remained vigilant, always ready to remove any threat of sprouting plants from the perfect lawn.

But the children grew as children do, and moved away. The father remained and cared for his house and the grass until he was too old to do so any longer. He tried to sell the house but no one seemed to want to buy it. So he closed it up and moved to the city. 

The house began to fall apart from lack of care. Children smashed the windows with stones and the trees began to take residence around the house once more. They grew around and within the space created by cracks and leaks in the foundations and gutters. The house was held together within the arms of the trees. As the trees grew the house was lifted and embraced tighter in the branches. The trees had one again claimed their ground and the house as well.

This is a moving tale of man versus nature and the ultimate, inevitable take-back. The beautiful illustrations are created digitally and in gouache, in subtle earthy browns, greens, ochre and beige which accent the countryside while focusing on the isolation of the house. The jacket of the book is a replica of the hard cover beneath, showing the house held up by trees.


  1. This sounds like a wonderful read and visual treat Vicki... xv

  2. Hi Vicki, Great picture books are the most wonderful form of art. I'll never grow too old for them. Thanks for dropping by BWB. Vicki


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