Review of The Shrinking of Treehorn: 50th Anniversary Edition

The Shrinking of Treehorn: 50th Anniversary Edition
by Florence Parry Heide; illus. by Edward Gorey
Primary, Intermediate    Holiday    80 pp.    g
10/20    978-0-8234-4703-9    $16.99

“Something very strange was happening to Treehorn.” And with that, we’re off, to follow young Treehorn’s tribulations as he wakes up one day to discover that he is shrinking. Heide’s hilariously deadpan text absolutely skewers adult preoccupation with their own roles and spheres. His mother is much more concerned about her cake not rising than Treehorn’s problem, while at school — “‘Well, I’ll let it go for today,’ said his teacher. ‘But see that it’s taken care of before tomorrow. We don’t shrink in this class.’” Meanwhile, Treehorn lives his interesting life, keeping up with his fifty-six favorite TV programs, collecting cereal box tops and sending off for prizes, and, oh yes — playing a magical board game that might have a bearing on his decreasing size. Gorey’s iconic illustrations, which emphasize the mundanity of the setting, are as dry and funny as Heide’s text. With a new and cogent introduction by Lane Smith (“Who would have thought the commonplace, the humdrum, could be giddier than a traditional ha-ha-funny children’s book?”) and additional material by Heide and her son David, this is a long-overdue and most welcome reissue.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is a contributing editor to The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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