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by Ted Kooser & illustrated by Jon Klassen

Pub Date: March 27th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7636-510-7
Publisher: Candlewick

Poet Kooser explores the tension between the human predilection for taming nature and the triumph of the wild.

A solitary house, its lawn bordered by thick woods, shelters a father, boy and girl. The children play in the woods while their father meticulously mows, plucking tree seedlings at every appearance. The children grow up and leave, and dad, yard work too much for him, follows. Unsold and unwanted, the house leaks and sags. Kooser describes the transformation: “Some of the seeds had sprouted along the foundation, where water ran off the roof… and these little trees were soon saplings, pressed against the side of the house.” Paradoxically, the rotting house, nails rusting and boards pulling away, is kept intact by the maturing trees. Kooser, his language plain yet rich, marvels quietly: "[A]s they grew bigger and stronger, they held it / together as if it was a bird’s nest in the fingers of their branches.” Klassen’s stylized pictures, in a muted palette of umber, brick red and green-gray, capture the isolation of both house and father. The lawn, that point of pride, isn’t lushly depicted. Rather, it’s a collection of fitful, pale strokes, suspended below a swirl of winged seeds. Double-page spreads show the shift from foundational support to that of the tight phalanx of trees. In the final spread, the house is seen from below, high in the trees’ sure embrace.

Poignant and lovely.

(Picture book. 4-9)