The Things We Build Ourselves are Always Better
The Better Tree Fort by Jessica Scott Kerrin, illustrated by Qin Leng, published by Groundwood Books is a wonderful reminder that there are some things that will always be better but nothing is as special as the love of a parent for his/her child.
Russell has just moved into his new house, a house with a giant maple tree in the yard. What better way to enjoy a giant maple tree then by building a spectacular tree fort? Unfortunately, Russell’s dad is not the handiest dad around but not to fear, Russell draws up the plans and they head to the lumber store to buy the supplies and ask for a bit of advice and finally Russell has a fantastic tree fort of his own. When Russell climbs up into his tree fort he is stunned to see that Warren down the way is also building a tree fort, well the builders his dad hired are building the tree fort that is and it is even better than Russell’s.
There are so many relatable moments in this lovely story, like the four extra trips to the lumber store (happens every time my Dad is in town helping us with work around the house). The tree fort may not turn out exactly like the plans Russell drew but that’s okay because it is perfect and the reason it’s perfect is Russell and his Dad built it together. They spend time together in the fort, enjoying peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and have a camp out together in the fort. At the end of the story Russell’s dad remarks, “There will always be a better tree fort” and Russell remind his dad, “But not a better dad.” It’s a beautiful story to remind us all there will always be things that are bigger and better than what we have, but if we take the time to enjoy the company of our family there is no better thing in the world.
Qin Leng's art in The Better Tree Fort is so fabulous. It's light and airy and reminiscent of some of Quentin Blake's work in the ink drawings. I absolutely love the effect of the watercolour and the pencil crayon combined with the ink drawings to create such visually appealing illustrations. It's a style your child can pick up by putting ink to page and giving it a good water colour wash. A wonderful example to inspire some rainy or sunny day creations.