Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve
In the days before Covid 19, and if you were lucky enough to participate in a Writers’ Festival, as I was, you will be struck by the crowds of devoted children, accompanied by equally enthusiastic parents hanging on every word spoken by Andy Griffiths. Sessions involving him and Terry Dent unfailingly sell out whenever they are guests. It seems that, wherever they appear, Andy entertains his fans with rapid fire chat, laced with jokes. The audience invariably erupts in laughter.
It is no surprise that each new book in the Treehouse series is eagerly welcomed. Each new edition features the new 13 storeys added to the existing treehouse. The latest has 130 storeys. The success of this series is a phenomenon. Now enjoyed in 35 countries, selling over 10,000,000 copies and winning multiple awards – the only children’s book to win Book of the Year – it continues to break records.
The attraction of the books and the adventures of Andy, Terry and Jill would not be as appealing without Terry Dent’s illustrations. They play such an integral part to the extent that some pages are devoted to them alone. The men’s friendship brings a special personal touch, especially as their names are also the heroes’.
Cleverly, the pair have devised a tale within the plot which has a deadline, so their antics become the completed work, eventually arriving at the publisher. Timing is crucial and the delivery coincides with the solution to all their ‘problems’. These challenges come at a speedy and hilarious pace. One of the funniest rescues is shooting myriad soap bubbles at invading eyeballs!
Andy and Terry are aware of kid’s delight in mud, so there is a mud-devouring toad and lots of muddy blobs.
There are wonderful rhymes and songs. Bill the Postman is a star and his devotion to duty is sung in the most amusing way. He carries on, even when facing cannon blast, yeti and dragons, as well as every possible form of weather! Guaranteed much laughter….
The author and illustrator have a limitless imagination coupled with irresistible humour. As well as the soap bubble blaster that comes to their rescue, there is the Grabinator, a time-wasting level, (popular!) a Super Long Legs level, and the best-bookshop-in-a-treehouse level. As a gesture towards Covid 19 times, there is a toilet paper factory, because you can never have too much!! With a nod to the Streaming Services, and binge-watching, we have eight seasons of Elephant on a Bicycle, which have rib-tickling illustrations.
The team of Andy and Terry have assembled so many ingredients which are attuned with children’s enjoyment of reading.
The huge success of their books combines humour, originality, surprise, and endless inventions that kids find irresistible. They perform great service in providing an experience of reading books such a treat. Harry Potter did this to astounding success, but the treehouse series brings such joy and laughter unparalleled so far.
Long may the Treehouse grow. It has brought so much pleasure to readers of all ages.
The 130-Storey Treehouse
by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
ISBN. 9 781760 786168
$18.99 [hardback], $14.99 [paperback]; 316pp