Parents' Guide to

Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 7+

Irksome, lame attempt at humor and charm.

Book Haven Kimmel Humor 2008
Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House Poster Image

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The author tries VERY HARD to be charming and funny, but she's NOT VERY GOOD at it. So what she ends up with is simply IRRITATING and WEIRD (and apparently she thinks that narrating with frequent ALL CAPS is cute -- it isn't). In her attempt to make her characters humorously eccentric and quirky she ends up, apparently accidentally, delineating a family that seems more disabled than eccentric: a father who clearly suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, a mother who is pathologically incapable of dealing with ordinary life, and a main character who seems borderline autistic.

Further, she attempts to use the father's OCD tendencies to make him less sympathetic than the mother, but accomplishes the opposite. Readers, who will understand clearly why he left, may be forgiven for hoping that when he returns he will take Kaline away to live with him. That is, if they care at all, for the characters are so off-putting that there's little actual emotional involvement. Even Kaline's eventual solution to the bully problem -- he stands up to them by lying about his nonexistent older brothers and they slink away, abashed, to pick on someone else -- seems forced. Even more so when Kaline's mother bursts into the classroom yelling and threatening the 8-year-old bullies with the police and physical harm. Humor and charm require a light and natural touch (see the Other Choices section), but when troweled on artlessly the effort shows, and they become simply painful and annoying.

Book Details

  • Author: Haven Kimmel
  • Illustrator: Peter Brown
  • Genre: Humor
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Atheneum
  • Publication date: February 1, 2008
  • Number of pages: 152
  • Last updated: September 24, 2015

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