An Appealing Middle Grade Book
THE GREAT TREEHOUSE WAR by Lisa Graff is the story of Winnie Malladi-Maraj and her nine friends. It’s told in the form of a collective memoir; the focus is on fifth-grade Winnie, and she’s the primary author, but her friends get to share their thoughts throughout the narrative through post-it notes.
As the story begins, Winnie’s parents are getting divorced. They are both incredibly controlling and competitive, and as a result they’ve decided that Winnie will spend three days of the week with her dad and three days of the week with her mom—which leaves Wednesdays. To ensure that the time is divided exactly evenly, Winnie gets to spend every Wednesday in her incredibly awesome tree house, and as her parents try to outdo each other during the nights that Winnie is with them, the tree house has become a sanctuary for the girl.
Unfortunately, Winnie’s parents are also too consumed with making her days with them special, so she has fallen far behind in her schoolwork, and she’s at risk of failing fifth grade. Everything comes to a head when Winnie finds a loophole in local laws and declares her tree house its own country. This gives her an opportunity to avoid her parents for an extended period of time, and her friends join her to avoid their own perceived injustices thereby becoming the “Treehouse 10.”
Winnie and her friends are a lot of fun, and their tree house adventure will keep middle grade (and other) readers enthralled. Winnie’s parents are over-the-top with their actions and reactions, but that’s part of what keeps things moving in the book. The Treehouse 10 are both wise and (appropriately) immature kids, and their personalities are given a chance to shine through Winnie’s observations and their own contributions.
THE GREAT TREEHOUSE WAR is a great mix of chapter book and comic book, and it has appeal for both boys and girls. It would be a terrific addition to middle school libraries, and I enthusiastically recommend it.
My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.