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9780763651077_cover Enlarge Cover
5 of 5
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list price: $19.00
edition:Hardcover
published: March 2012
ISBN:9780763651077
publisher: Candlewick Press

House Held Up by Trees

by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen

reviews: 2
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country life, art & architecture
5 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $19.00
edition:Hardcover
published: March 2012
ISBN:9780763651077
publisher: Candlewick Press
Description

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.

Contributor Notes

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 Outby Caroline Stutson, won the Governor General’s Award for illustration in his native Canada. Jon Klassen now lives in Los Angeles.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
Age:
4 to 8
Grade:
p to 3
Editorial 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

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)

Poignant and lovely.
—Kirkus Reviews

This bittersweet tale is rife with tension, between young and old, order and chaos, yesterday and tomorrow. Poet Kooser’s soft, plain narrative matches that tension, at once frank and nostalgic. Klassen’s somber, dappled watercolors add to it, juxtaposing the house’s rectilinear form against nature’s organic shapes... This quiet elegy to the passage of time offers some simple and profound musings to contemplative young readers curious about the future and their role in it.
—The Horn Book

A lyrical, melancholy prose text by former U.S. poet laureate Kooser is paired with ethereal illustrations to tell the story of a house and the family who once lived there.
—School Library Journal

Poet Laureate emeritus Kooser writes with quiet particularity, and his descriptive prose is filled with the rustle of wind through the trees. Klassen’s art is simply beautiful, the leafy trees making a lacy pattern against the walls of the house, strong verticals of trees delicately textured by slender grasses and pale dotty imprints of leaflets...
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Readers will contend with the power of the natural world in this lyrical picture book, in which trees take over an abandoned house.
—Instructor

With ethereal, haunting illustrations by Jon Klassen, this memorable biography of a house will appeal to both young readers and adults.
—The Seattle Times

It is the kind of book that can be read again and again as it will inspire new conversation and discussion with each reading.
—7online.com (WABC-TV)

Reader Reviews

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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

House Held Up By Trees

In House Held Up By Trees, a solitary house, located on a property bereft of trees, is occupied by a father and his two children. The adjoining lots, where the son and daughter love to play, are filled with wild trees of all kinds. In the summer, the seeds from the trees blow onto their land, only to be removed or cut down with the lawnmower. The boy and girl grow up and leave home. Their father grows older, too, and eventually moves away, relinquishing his home with the perfect lawn. A subtle revolution begins to take place. The grass starts to grow, little trees sprout and, as the years pass, the house is weakened to the point where the growing trees press against its sides and lift it into the air.

American author Ted Kooser has written an eloquent account of the relentless persistence of nature in beautiful and sensitive prose, as can be seen in these contrasting landscapes. The book begins “When it was new, the house stood alone on a bare square of earth. There was a newly planted lawn around it, but not a single tree to give shade in summer or to rattle its bare twigs in the winter cold.” It concludes with “The trees lifted it and lifted it, and maybe you will drive past it today or tomorrow, as it floats there above the ground like a tree house, a house in the trees, a house held together by the strength of trees, and the wind blowing, perfumed by little green flowers.”

This is exquisite writing, matched by the wondrous digital and gouache artwork of Jon Klassen. The muted colours lend a meditative quality to the illustrations, which depict the house and property from a variety of perspectives. No one will forget the final spread of the decrepit house, looming above the trees that control its fate.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2012. Volume 35 No. 3.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

House Held Up By Trees

When the house was new, not a single tree, shoot or seedling could be found on its perfect lawn. The children who lived there went to neighbouring lots that offered secret places to play. When the children grew up and moved away, the father continued his battle against the trees until one day he, too, moved away, and nature was allowed to take its course.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Spring, 2012.

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