I’m so pleased to be featuring the illustrations this morning from one of my top-five favorite picture books of 2010. Oh yes, I have formed such a geek-tacular list in my head! The presentation I made weeks ago at The University of Tennessee’s Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature—about my favorite picture book titles thus far in 2010—forced me to really consider my very bestest favorites from the year, and this book is one of them. It was actually published in 2009 in Belgium as De Boomhut, but Lemniscaat, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, published the first U.S. edition this year.
The Tree House, illustrated by father-daughter team Marije Tolman and Ronald Tolman, is a wordless picture book, breathtaking in its beauty, scope, and originality. This over-sized book tells the simple story of one rockin’ magical tree house in the middle of a body of water. One day, a polar bear swims up. The next day, a brown bear makes his way, as pictured in the spread opening this post. (Incidentally, you can click these spreads to super-size them, but I will warn fellow art-geeks that these are low-res images. Not that I’m complaining. I am happy to have any to show you today.)
The bears make themselves at home in this three-story tree house. After the water recedes (Publishers Weekly wrote, “It’s Noah’s Ark undone, with no traumatic flood, no tidy matched pairs, and no need for olive branches” — this I love!)…where was I? Yes, after the water recedes, more animals join the bears. Flamingos, pandas, owls, and much more:
There’s a rhino who rams himself into the tree (he’s desperate to get up there) in one of my favorite spreads. Look how the Tolmans vibrate the tall tree house home:
Cue even more magic when a small brown bear flies in in this lovely, light-filled, sunny spread:
Everyone has a grand time by finding their own ways to amuse themselves and then depart for home, the white and brown bears, the original inhabitants, opting to stay. I mean, hey: If I had a magical, three-story tree house, some toast, some hot cocoa, books, and an excellent companion, I think I’d do the same.
Publishers Weekly calls this a “treasure box of images,” and boy howdy are they right about that. It possesses a “quiet effervescence,” they add. Fellow illustration junkies, come to me now, and let me tell you that this book is a wonder. Gorgeous is what it is. The colors, the lines, the wide open spaces, the space the Tolmans give this book to breathe, the compositions…I could go on. There is also much humor and affection in this wordless story. It’s one of the most beautiful, winning picture books I’ve seen in a long while. Each spread is a wonder. I never tire of this one. I hear this one won the 2010 BolognaRagazzi Award (Bologna Children’s Book Fair) and was a USBBY Outstanding International Books nominee.
Marije studied illustration and graphic design at the Royal Academy for Visual Arts in The Hague and at the Edinburgh Class for Art in Scotland. Her father, Ronald, is a sculptor, painter, and graphic artist. I highly recommend visiting their sites, linked above.
Illustrations from THE TREE HOUSE © 2009 by Marije Tolman and Ronald Tolman. Illustrations from the first U.S. edition © 2010 used with the permission of Boyds Mills Press.
As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.
1). My daughter had a good first week of first grade and has a teacher who loves books, loves to read, and doesn’t go berserk over Accelerated Reader. I told her that made me want to hug her, and she gave me an ACTUAL HUG. Another reason to love her.
3). This new CD, pictured here, is so very, very good.
4). I was terrifically flattered when Anne Marie Pace told me that 7-Imp is the “blog of the month” in the August issue of the email kidlit newsletter, The 4:00 Book Hook. AW SHUCKS. Thanks, you guys… (Well, Jama told me first. Thanks, Jama!)
6). I am seeing an old college friend this week, in town from Austin. In fact, I’m taking him to the bus station today and then heading out to see family, so if I’m sparse—and if spam tries to eat your kicks for breakfast—don’t worry. I shall return later.
7). This is going to sound hokey/cheesy/corny/fill in your adjective-of-choice here, but I’m grateful for all you blog readers. 2010 has been weird for me, in terms of not having as much time to blog and read others’ blogs, due to…well, my own writing, my job-that-pays, and having a four-year-old around at all times of the work day. Oh, and I miss reading in general. (I miss novels, and it’s a good thing I like picture books. I keep saying that maybe in 2011, I’ll get to read a novel again.) This week especially I took a good look around at what other bloggers are doing (when I had about one second to do so) and felt like SUCH A LAME-TASTIC BLOGGER. I mean, first I was impressed — and proud to be part of such a community. Not a new feeling at all, that one. But then, I felt lame. There are so many more books I want to cover at the blog — but just don’t have the time now. So, I’m amazed you all still stick with me. FOR REAL. I’m not just fishin’ for compliments here for fun or something…
That was a very rambly kick. Of sorts. Sorry.
What are YOUR kicks this week?
Last but oh-so far from least, Tuesday is Eisha’s birthday, y’all! (To any newbies: Eisha is the co-founder of this blog, and she’s my best friend.) Can you help me wish her a happy, happy birthday? Let’s do it. Woot!