The Tree House by Marije Tolman and Ronald Tolman
This is a wordless picture book by a father/daughter team who have created a magical immersive experience. A polar bear swims towards a tree house that stands alone in the water. Later, a brown bear arrives in a boat. The two bears stay together in the tree house, reading books as the sea below turns pink with a flock of flamingos. As the flamingos pass, more animals arrive, including a rhino who bashes the trunk of the tree, two pandas, some owls, a hippo, and a peacock. Another bear arrives via balloon and takes the peacock away. The other animals head off, leaving the two original bears together in the tree house.
My synopsis doesn’t capture the beauty of this picture book at all, as is often the case with wordless picture books, the story is so much more about the pictures than anything that can be summarized in words. The illustrations are simple and beautiful. The tree house itself is unchanging, printed in exactly the same way from page to page. It offers a consistency while the world changes around it. The level of the water rises and falls, the sky changes colors, the seasons move. The tree house stands, staying constant through it all, even as it supports so many animals.
There is a lovely gentle mood throughout the book. A sense of playfulness and unexpectedness fills the story as well. The surprise of the suddenly pink page when the flamingos arrive is visually arresting and very effective. The colors are deep, from a blue that is almost black and perfect captures late evening to a canary yellow that sings.
This is a book of wonder, a beautiful place to spend some moments with someone in a tree house out in the water. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Lemniscaat.
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