Time travel escapade proves a fantastic ride
Stephen Romei The 65-Storey Treehouse By Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton Pan Macmillan, 378pp, $12.99
Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton don’t need a rave review to help them sell books but they are going to get one anyway, as befits the strange but fair logic of their fictional world.
The 65-Storey Treehouse, the latest instalment of the annual series that started with 13 levels in 2011, is one of the best yet, a time-travelling escapade that offers fun twists on historical events. There are memorable new characters, invented and real (HG Wells has a hilarious cameo). This verdict has been sanc- tioned by my 10-year-old adviser and, almost as importantly, young readers Australia-wide, with the book breaking sales records.
We don’t talk about this much when we talk about books, but one of the numerous attractions of The 65-Storey Treehouse, which clocks in at 378 pages, is its outstanding value for money. We read it nightly over a week, and I know it will be reread and reread. It’s difficult to think of how you could better spend $13.
We open with the traditional tour of the new additions to Andy and Terry’s treehouse. There’s a birthday room, where it’s always your birthday, and an un- birthday room, where the longer you stay, the younger you get. No one will be surprised to find Terry in nappies. There’s a cloning machine, a room full of exploding eyeballs (about time!), a screeching bal- loon orchestra, an ant farm, a quicksand pit and, our favourite, an owl house with three wise owls who would not be out of place in federal parliament. (“We don’t always know what they mean, but that’s because they’re so wise.’’) .
The main action centres on the fact the boys discover they don’t have a building permit for the treehouse. Enter the phlegmatic Inspector Bubblewrap, who orders the “immediate destruction of this unsafe construction”. Andy and Terry decide to use a wheelie bin time machine (they have one handy) to go back a few years and obtain the permit. Inspector B joins them. But a temperamental chronometer sees the trio whisked to places unexpected, in the past and in the future. It’s a fantastic ride.
A parliament of owls, more or less