CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 13 . . . .March 3, 2006
We like our old tree,
Up in the Tree is a facsimile edition of a book first published in 1978. It is an illustrated children's book in the style of the Dr. Seuss beginning reader series, with few words per page and interesting rhymes in the text. The text is placed on entirely illustrated pages. The book’s author is Margaret Atwood, who has won awards for her works of fiction for adults and who has also written storybooks for children. Here, she not only wrote the story, but she also illustrated it and hand-lettered the text.
Up in the Tree is the story of two children who live in a tree, have their ladder blown down by the wind while they are in the tree, and then worry about never getting out of the tree. The vocabulary is controlled and repetitive enough to give beginning readers confidence. The hand lettering is interesting, and the use both of red and blue in the lettering adds interest. Red and blue and blends of these two colours are also the only colours used in illustrations. The pictures, themselves, are bold and interesting for the creative use of only two colours. But this use of only two colours is also a bit overwhelming, with a giant blue tree taking up most of many pages (The two-colour scheme was used in the original to save money on printing).
The story is not interesting. For generations who have grown up with Dr. Seuss and with the series of “Beginning Reading” books carrying the “Cat in the Hat” logo, this is a mediocre addition to the genre. This story lacks the action, characters and colour that engage children who are beginning to read and who are attracted to these elements when the text, itself, will be the hard work.
Recommended with reservations.
Robert Groberman is a grade one teacher at David Brankin Elementary in Surrey, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.