“I have a secret tree fort, and you’re not invited!” In this true-to-life, warm and appealing picturebook, two siblings have contrasting views about what they should do outside. “Play with me,” begs the younger one, but the older girl just wants to read. “Fine!” says the little one, eventually.
The glories of this fort are numerous. But not even the water-balloon launcher (for keeping pirates at bay) or winch (for hauling snacks away from monsters) can attract the older girl’s attention. Nothing works, in fact, until the little one decides the fort is made of sweets.
And suddenly on double spread that gets to the heart of sibling quarrels everywhere, they’re arguing.
Secret Tree Fort is a gem, with lots to enjoy, laugh about and unpack. It’s unusual to find a picturebook addressing a sibling relationship with such a sure touch as this one; these girls are feisty, with richly imagined inner worlds. Their approaches to life may be different, but they’re not one-sided. Imagination and action coexist quite comfortably for both of them, and they feel very real.
This is a book that offers “small, wonderfully specific insights into childhood imaginings, feelings and frustrations” (Kirkus Reviews), and it’s this emotional integrity along with Secret Tree Fort’s funny, fresh inventiveness, that makes it work so well at KS1.
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