Time. Perspective. Imagination: Everything You Need for a Treehouse by Mollee Holloman

In their new picture book, Everything You Need for a Treehouse (2018, Chronicle Books), Carter Higgins’ carefully plucked and placed words are gorgeously interpreted by Emily Hughes’ illustrations. Just as each treehouse is extraordinary and unique, this storytelling team captures the diverse experience that each reader brings to the story.


Time | Perspective | Imagination


The treehouse in the woods behind my childhood home was not actually a house. Nor was it elevated. Basically, it was just a tree, and hardly even that. A giant pine (or was it an oak?) had fallen at some point, and on a day I was out exploring, I climbed atop. Feeling it was a magical woodland perch just for me, I declared it my secret spot. Blueprints, nor permission, were required to determine its status as a treehouse. It was a place where I could get away and let my imagination run wild. All I needed out there was time.


“Everything you need for a treehouse starts with…”




A reader of Everything You Need for a Treehouse is given the gift of time to soak up the journey through the senses. The quiet whispers of friends lost in a rainy forest. The sweet perfume drifting from a greenhouse, mixing and swirling with a gaggle of gardeners. Warm sun speckles shimmering between branches, cool swampy breezes sliding up through floorboards, the thrill of a post-cannonball splash. Stubborn sap left between busy building fingers. How many stories do we share with young people that invite them to play unabashedly, without an agenda or worries; with nothing but time to enjoy being a kid?


“Everything you need for a treehouse starts with time and looking up.”




From the soaring trunks shooting up from woodland floor, to the precariously perched treetop platform, Hughes’ illustrations offer a range of perspectives. Sophisticated vocabulary in Higgins’ text does not exclude young readers. Rather, ‘flora’ is visually defined in the rich, red poppies and fertile ferns that bloom across the pages. And ‘canopy’ is clearly the big, milky black curtain, high above the soon-to-be slumbering campers.


Perspective teaches the reader about inclusivity as well. Kids gather and welcome one another in each treehouse with an invitation to build, explore and have adventures together. You never feel alone while reading this book. The shifting settings and collective experience brings a sense of community.


“Everything you need for a treehouse starts with time and looking up and imagining a home…”




Does a treehouse demand to be build upon that mighty and alone oak, or aside the steadfast birch, or within the perfect pine branches on the tippy top? No, it does not! Because, Reader, it’s the adventures – real and imaginary – that constructs the perfect treehouse. This story reminds us that the building of memories is far more important than the physical structure; the boards or nails or the treasures inside. (Though, if I could, I’d spend gloriously uninterrupted days reading in that library treehouse)


Kids are naturally resourceful. Take a close look at the endpapers: see the umbrella lean-tos and jump rope-pulleys? The kids engineered those contraptions. And examine the materials that hug the tree trunks closely: scrap material and junkyard finds. With time and perspective, these inventive kiddos can pull off a masterpiece of the imagination!


Time | Perspective | Imagination


Time, perspective, and imagining a home are things we learn to appreciate in adulthood. Everything You Need for a Treehouse teaches us it should be at the core of every childhood to have time to play freely, to develop his/her perspective of world, and, most importantly, have a place to call home – not just imagine it.


Take time to read this book. Take time to let your readers pour over the illustrations. Take time to let the words sink in, to expand your perspective. And take time to let your imagination run wild, so you can travel back to that youthful escape of a treehouse… Whatever it may have looked like.


Mollee Holloman is a K-5 school librarian {and Gryffindor} in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where she reads and tweets (@MolleeBranden) to distract from neverending to-do lists and other grown-up responsibilities.