Skip to main content

The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Parry Heide, drawings by Edward Gorey 64 pp RL 3

I am a fan of Edward Gorey's and I remember when the Treehorn Trilogy was reissued in 2006, but didn't rush out to buy it since it was shelved in the Cartoonist/Humorist section of the bookstore and not the children's section. Sadly, it went out of print in the blink of an eye, which is too bad since the trilogy (which I bought used recently) is printed on gorgeous, thick paper, the quality of the illustrations is superb and, of course, it is small - a bit bigger and a bit thinner than a brick! I decided to hunt down the book and review it when it kept popping up on websites of kid's book authors I like and when I discovered that the first book, The Shrinking of Treehorn, is available in paperback.

Originally published in 1971, the adults in this book act and look the era. The jacket flap of the trilogy describes Treehorn as a clever but repeatedly ignored boy. While this might sound horrible, any of you who were kids in the 70s might remember that is was also a pretty good set up, being ignored by parents who had adult lives of their own. I know I got to do a lot of stuff I would never let my kids do today... Some of you may find this scenario disturbing, some may find if humorous, but what really matters is what kids think of it, and I think kids will enjoy it.

The Shrinking of Treehorn is at it's heart, a really simple story. Treehorn wakes up, realizes he is shrinking and gets no support and almost no concern from the adults in his life, from his parents to his teachers to the principle. By accident, Treehorn discovers that one of the many cereal-box giveaways that he loves to send off for is the reason for his diminishing size and he sets things back in order. His interactions with adults, their disinterestedness and the way they talk in circles, will be funny for older children. I'd say that this book reminds me most of Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, both for they way the illustrations make it evident when it was written and the way that the parents interact with the children. While Alexander's parents are a little bit more involved than Treehorn's, it still reminds me a bit of my own childhood.


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…