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The 78-Storey Treehouse: 05/05/17
The 78-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton is the sixth story in the treehouse series and because it seems to be taking forever for them to be published anywhere but Australia, we actually paid a rather bewildered bookshop in Sydney to send us a copy. While Andy Griffiths and illustrator Terry Denton may be Australia's most popular children's book pair, and their books are probably ubiquitous there, here, not so much. So to them (as the email exchange progressed) we seemed completely barmy to want to pay nearly double cover price to get have a copy shipped to California. It's okay, they'll get repeat business form us come August when the 91-Storey Treehouse comes out.
Every new edition includes two themes: the big over arching thing — a plot device, if you will, and a more subtle one — a visual pun. Basically there's the Andy theme and Terry theme. This time it's the blockbuster movie being filmed on location and the clever alien spy cows who want to steal the movie before it even debuts.
In previous books, if one loses the treehouse, so does the other. If one goes on an adventure, so does the other. Here, not so much. Here, the book falls into the long running buddy movie franchise trope of trying to break up the team in the name of drama. It's a cliché and as such it rarely works to do anything other than produce an annoying plot twist.
That is the case here when Andy is tossed out of the treehouse after disrupting the filming. He had wanted to play himself along side Terry, who is playing himself. Instead, he's been replaced by Mel Gibbon. I don't for an instant believe that Terry would kick out Andy. Nor do I believe that the film would cast one but not the other. That would be like the Croc Hunter movie having been made without Steve Irwin but keeping his wife — or WildKratz with only one of the brothers.
Thankfully this book (like all the others) have enough other plot twists and gags to distract from the one annoying one. For instance, there is the missing, super secret potato chips. They were taken right out of the bank vault (past all sorts of deadly traps). All of this mayhem leads to a courtroom drama.
But the best part is the cow plot. They start subtly at first — just little cow doodles hidden on all the page. It's not until about 2/3 through the book that the cow plot is even introduced. Once it's made obvious that there are alien spy cows, one must go back and relook at at every previous page to find the cow.
So were it not for the cows and the courtroom drama, I would have rated this book three stars. The completely artificial separation of Andy and Terry does nothing except make them act completely out of character.