Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Wonderful Tree House

The Wonderful Tree House
Harold Longman
pictures by Harry Devlin
Parent's Magazine Press, 1962

Full disclosure. I took my son to see How to Train Your Dragon last week, and he fell for it, hook, line and sinker. He's a sucker for any sort of enchanted animal and has swallowed the story whole, making the past week thoroughly dragon-filled. The moment we walked out of the theater, we headed over to the bookstore to purchase the story in its original form, while picking up a copies of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Remember the Alamo and Treasure Island for a trio of birthday parties we have coming up. I love the fact that my son is ALWAYS the only one who gives books. Even if the kid ends up hating it, it still stands out from all the plastic and robotics and superman stuff that is usually gifted. Plus, ten bucks says that book will still be on the child's bookshelf even after he goes off to college while that long forgotten plastic monster truck is rotting at the bottom of a landfill.

Recently, gifting books has started to annoy my son. He wishes we could go to the department store and pick out some big flashing toy with sounds and lights that would illicit the loudest ohhhs and ahhhs at the party, but I've held strong. A good thing too, as while shopping for those gifts I noticed this book waving sweetly at me from the nostalgia shelf.

Two iconic books that I remember fondly from my childhood were Old Black Witch! and How Fletcher Was Hatched, and although I'm not a huge fan of the Cranberry series, I'll pick up a Devlin book anytime I see one. Here we have the story of a boy who dreams of building a wonderful tree house.

What kind of house
Should a tree house be
A castle, maybe,
Strong and tall
With towers and
A high stone wall?
Why not?

Or maybe a fairy tale house or an airplane or a nest or a fort? The possibilities are endless, though in the end, good old dad knows just what to do to make the house come alive. Because, after all, a tree house can be anything we want in our imaginations. My husband is dying to build a tree house with my son, but we have a few birthdays still to go before that happens. Makes me insane that he'll be in kindergarten next year. Where has the time gone?

As my son and I sat on the couch this morning, finishing up the last two chapters of How To Train Your Dragon, both admittedly weeping openly at the end.... I made a pact that as long as my son will let me, I'll keep dishing out books to birthday boys and girls. I'd rather give even the chance of that moment... sitting there in the morning light, weeping over a lost dragon... to a child than some old stinky Lego set any day.

Also by:
How Fletcher Was Hatched
Old Witch Rescues Halloween
Old Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon
Old Black Witch!
Cranberry Thanksgiving


Caryn said...

Hey Scribbler! Do you only give new books as gifts? I've struggled with this myself as I love old books but always wonder if people take it wrong if I give their kid a used book. Just wondering what your thoughts are!

Burgin Streetman said...

It depends on the child and the parent... lots of times I'll give used books that look new... or really old books that look really really special... unless the parent is into vintage books as well, then I go for it... Sometimes if I feel bad about giving a used book but I still really wanna do it, so I'll wrap it really nice and fun and stick a child's harmonica or a kazoo on the top so I don't look like a total cheap lag!

but most of the time, admittedly, I buy nice new copies of classic old books, because who doesn't want a brand new, shiny book that they can crack open for the first time and write their name in? And for those children who I know won't appreciate Treasure Island and the like, I'll buy them a hardcopy of the first Captain Underpants book. Though full of fart jokes, it is pretty well written, and honestly, what child doesn't love fart jokes? That book will break even the most hardcore non-reader.

Lise said...

I'm also the only one at the party giving books...especially at baby showers! (Why does everyone think you need 755 onesies, but no books?) Good for you for staying strong!

Unknown said...

More often that not I find myself giving children's books to adult friends too! I figure no one needs more clothes, beauty products or electronics. Books are forever and can be so much more personal.

Antmusic said...

I always give books... and I have given some used (in top condition) ones too, but they are usually really special or rare books.

The Devlins (Wende and Harry) are a great duo (when you can find their stuff), and it is nice to see some of Harry's solo art too. Thanks for sharing this!

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