The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
|The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A brio-tastic book, but one that I only really liked due to the illustrations – the wacky script just didn't do it for me.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 256||Date: January 2015|
|Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books|
Andy and Terry live in a tree house so fantastic it caters for every whim – as long as you're a primary school-aged boy, that is. There's swimming on one level, bowling on another, as much marshmallow as you could eat and all the gadgets and gizmos their brilliant imaginations could come up with. But this idyllic life also comes with responsibilities – one moment you're painting a cat yellow to see if it becomes a canary and flies away (no spoiler – it does), the next you get reminded of an overdue deadline to write a book. What on earth could possibly happen to inspire such a book overnight?
Well, a lot. But that's the problem. Actually, for me the first problem was the construct of the two creators having to write a book – the punchline, if you like, was so obvious, and before that the whole 'ooh, what are we going to write about?' shtick didn't work for me. Could it include the time the mermaid turned nasty, perhaps, or the time they fought each other over supremacy at writing and drawing? I guess it could. It's patently bound to, let's face it. But beyond this whole faux mystery of how the book could get done overnight there is the sheer invention of the story-telling, which for me was too much. If something wacky could happen, it would – and very little of it managed to hang together with any sensible rhyme or reason. I like wacky as much as the next person, but when it's of the intelligent kind – this book just wilfully goes to the bizarre without thought of the consequences, and those consequences aren't great.
Someone who certainly didn't put his shift in overnight was our illustrator, who is out-and-out superb. Sure he conveys a quick style here, but his simple way with character, his ability to go for the cartoon on a huge scale or the minute expression – all convey his supremacy at his craft. There's ability here to zing the book along, which isn't really needed as the short reading time does that for you, but he really does make the pages come alive, and carries just as much incidental detail and possibly therefore even more jokes than the script.
So it is in the end the script that let it down for me. I'm sure the astute reader of this review will see I have put in the caveat about 'for me' several times, with the emphasis on me. I'm sure hundreds of thousands of Australians who bought this and the sequel regarding a 26-storey treehouse were on the whole happy. I know silly sells, and it will sell here, just as have past Andy Psycho Bum, Pencil of Doom Griffiths books. But you have to point out this book is three years and change old when it reaches Britain, and it didn't exactly need translating first. (On the subject of it being Australian, the best joke here is a Crocodile Dundee reference that I certainly did enjoy.) And I have to point out that – again, for me – the script is just too random, too daft, too 'phoned-in' – and blatant about the chance it actually was – for the book to work.
I must still thank the publishers for my review copy.
The Super Amazing Adventures of Me, Pig by Emer Stamp easily shows how to be abjectly silly in a brilliant way.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton at Amazon.com.
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