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The Shrinking of Treehorn: 03/02/10

My local library is full of surprises in the form of funky, old books. In the children's section I saw a title that instantly struck my fancy: The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Parry Heide. When I pulled the book off the shelf and saw the distinctive Edward Gorey illustration, I knew I had to read it.

Literally the book is about Treehorn who one days for no apparent reason begins to shrink. He can't get any adult to listen to him when he says he's shrinking. His parents get annoyed that he can no longer sit up properly at the table and that his clothes no longer fit. The bus driver can't understand why he's no longer able to get on the bus easily. The school principal thinks he's just doing it to break the rules.

But there's another side to the story. As Tristen (a third grade reviewer) points out, Treehorn is seeking attention. He like so many children is ignored by the adults important in his life. His shrinking is an outrageous act to get them to notice. Treehorn is a child living a parallel life to his parents. They pay attention to him only when he is part of their routine: family meals, bedtime and the like.

Treehorn though doesn't find a single sympathetic adult. Like so many children he has to solve his own problem. The solution is similar to the ending of Clifford the Small Red Puppy. The book closes with Treehorn faced with another unusual problem and deciding not to mention it. His parents don't even notice anything is wrong.

Comments (4)

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Comment #1: Wednesday, March, 3, 2010 at 13:08:44


Oh! We've read this one. It really is quite clever. But I always thought the ending kind of sad.

Comment #2: Friday, March 5, 2010 at 21:16:30


It is a little sad. His parents are so unobservant and disinterested in him or his well being.

Comment #3: Thursday, March, 4, 2010 at 17:08:12


Oh I'm so glad you found this one! I just adored it! There are two more about Treehorn that I'd like to find someday. And the Gorey illustrations are so "groovy"!

Comment #4: Friday, March 5, 2010 at 21:24:07


Thank you for telling me about the other two books. I checked my county library and while my local branch doesn't have them, I can put them on hold and have them delivered. So that's what I've done!

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