House Held Up by Trees

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

One thought on “House Held Up by Trees

  1. Seemi Aziz & Angeline Hoffman says:

    The illustration of the trees on the front cover of this book attracted me because I love to draw trees. It has something to do with the lines connecting or not connecting with each going on its own path. The lines, or branches have a life of there own to head in any direction they feel free to go to. The illustrator, Jon Klassen, brought back the experience and excitement of trees and this created the desire to open up this book and read and peruse the illustrations.
    The first illustration I turn to was on the first page and is of a plain square house out in the open with no trees to shade it. This illustration is missing trees and this made me continue on to see what was going to happen next.
    The second illustration consisted of wild trees on either side of the plain square house out in the open meadow. The two children, a girl and boy are running toward the trees. The illustration comes alive because with the children are in motion running toward the trees (the colors of the trees, wild grass, and bushes look so real!). The drawing is full of natural colors and bring a sense of place. My response to that reminds me of a place I have seen many times driving through the beautiful land of my native people.
    This story is about the history of a house (first being brand new with the owner [father] working hard for the lawn to look perfect) followed by how it changed throughout the years. When the father is older and his two children have grown up it is to hard for the father to keep up the house and the lawn so he moves closer to his children in the city and he puts up a “For Sale” sign in the yard. Then the house and yard are unattended. Seeds sprout along the foundation and press against the side of the house. The house paint has faded, shingles have blown away, the roof has leaked and the house is beginning to collapse. But the trees kept it from falling apart as the trees grew bigger and stronger, they hold the house together. Gradually, the growing trees lift the house off the foundation — a house in the trees. The author, Ted Kooser, created and developed this story and firing the imagination of readers and myself. Its amazing how nature can be so powerful and bring back the life of a lonely house — lifting it up –like cradling a baby. The illustration in this story brings life to the text with the lines and curves bringing out the natural colors of the trees, house, landscape, and the feeling of the power inherent in the text The illustration brings out responses of my own experience and understanding how life is fulfilling.
    Like you, Angie, trees are a weak point for me as I love sitting in their shade as well as drawing and painting them. I remember climbing trees as a child and had an actual tree house that was a hiding place, where I sat and contemplated life and prepared for my tough academic exams. So it was no surprise that this book drew me in right away. The background story of the picture book, that Ted Kooser owned this home/house and wanted to sell it but never could until the forest overtook it captivated me.
    Jon very well visually documents the trajectory of the growth of the ‘living’ home until nature takes over and gives it life beyond life. Even though it is not his written narrative Jon does justice to the story. I value the way he depicts the time lapse in soft visually attractive colors and shapes. I thought the visual and the written narrative went very well together, intertwining and dancing together in a lyrical manner that added to the depth of the storyline.

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