Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Regarding the trees

Regarding the trees

Kate Klise
Illustrator:  M. Sarah Klise 
Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Harcourt, 1998   ISBN: 978-0152060909

Walter Russ, the principal of Geyser Creek Middle School, is very anxious because he and his school are going to be evaluated by the Society of Principals and Administrators in just a few months. In an effort to make the school grounds tidier Wally wants to have the trees trimmed. In fact he even thinks that the big willow tree should be ""eliminated."" He decides to Ask Florence Waters, the lady who can fix anything, to help out. Unfortunately Florence takes his words ""I need a proposal from you"" to mean that he wants to marry her. In actual fact all he really wants is a ""proposal"" about what she might do to improve the appearance of the trees on the school grounds.

As if the trees aren't enough of a worry, Wally also has reason to be concerned about Chef Angelo, the cook who is now working in the school kitchens. Not content with feeding the children of the town, Chef Angelo - who hails from Italy and who was brought to Geyser Creek by Florence Waters - wants to feed the whole town. He is going to set up a restaurant called Caffe Angelo in the school. In fact he plans on living in Mr. N's classroom. Needless to say this is rather an unorthodox state of affairs. Angel Fisch who runs the local eatery, is very annoyed to have a poacher on her territory. Not only is he a poacher, but he is also rude and opinionated. Before anyone can do anything to prevent it war is declared between Angelo and Angel.

To make matters worse people in the town start to take sides. The girls and women support Angel and the boys and men stand behind Angelo. Finally it is decided that the two cooks will have a cook-off to settle the matter once and for all.

Wally's life is further complicated when Minnie O., one of the girls in the school, takes it upon herself to save the weeping willow and the other trees from the ax. Looking through local records Minnie learns that her town has a tradition for planting trees not cutting them down. Furthermore the lovely old willow had been present for numerous weddings, birthdays, and other events. It would be a crime to cut it down. So Minnie goes to battle.

The whole extraordinary mix up and upset comes to a head on the night of May 1st, Mayday. On this day Florence is going to hold her wedding to Wally, the inspector from the Society of Principals and Administrators plans to examine the school, and the two cooks are going to hold their cook-off. Will the little town of Geyser Creek survive what promises to be an extraordinary night?

Tree lovers and readers who enjoy word play will greatly enjoy this deliciously funny and utterly delightful book. The author not only tells a lively story but she also shows her readers that trees are really vital for the well being of people. They make us heal better, they beautify our world, and they often have wonderful stories associated with them. Instead of having a straightforward narrative, the author tells the story using newspaper articles, the minutes of meetings, notes, cards, letters, and other communications. We hear from all the major characters in the tale, along with many minor ones, and in the process we get a feel for what the little town of Geyser Creek, Missouri is like.

The illustrations which appear throughout the book compliment the text beautifully and readers will be hard pressed not to laugh out loud as they read this clever and amusing book. This is on the books in the ""Regarding the... "" series created by Kate Klise and her sister M. Sarah Klise.