Cover image for The boat in the tree
The boat in the tree
Publication Information:
Asheville, N.C. : Front Street, c2007.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 22 x 25 cm.
Added Author:
Having dreamed of sailing to Bongadongo since the day his younger brother was adopted, a boy finally has his means of escape but cannot make use of it without his brother's help.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book EASY WYN 1 1

On Order



The adoption of a little brother sets off a series of fantastical adventures. When Mom and Dad bring home little Simón, their older son resists the idea of a new brother and retreats to a fantasy world. He builds a raft and sails to his own island of Bongadongo, creates an entire fleet of model ships, and, using chewing gum, tries to patch up a real boat that he finds along the shore. Simón is persistent and longs to join his new older brother in the fun. But the boy can take it no longer and runs away to find a ship that will take him far from home. A damaging windstorm, and its aftermath, changes their relationship forever. Tim Wynne-Jones creates a fanciful story of sibling rivalry. John Shelley's illustrations reveal how imagination bridges even the widest gap.

Author Notes

Tim Wynne-Jones has done everything from playing in a hippie band to working full-time ... for at least a year and a half. His other picture books include Architect of the Moon, The Last Piece of Sky, and the wildly popular Zoom Trilogy. His novels include The Boy in the Burning House and The Maestro . He lives near Perth, Ontario, Canada.

John Shelly is the illustrator of MVP* (Front Street), The Secret in the Matchbox, and The Mystery in the Bottle. In addition to his illustrations for children's books in English, he has illustrated a number of Japanese titles, including a four-volume series of Hans Christian Andersen's tales to commemorate the bicentennial of the author's birth. Mr. Shelley lives with his family in Tokyo, Japan.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-An unnamed boy, about eight years old, is passionate about boats of all kinds. "The day Mom and Dad went to pick up my new brother, I built a raft." The raft is a collection of junk and spare parts, but it serves as the vehicle for his imaginary adventures of sailing off to Bongadongo. This is where he can get away from Sim-n, a boy slightly younger than himself. There are two stories here: the protagonist's love of boats and his acceptance of the new family member. Sim-n wants to be a part of the boat-related activities, but big brother shuts him out. After a squabble, the older boy walks to the river, where a storm comes in and blows everything far and wide. When the weather clears, he hears Sim-n calling to him about a boat in a tree, an actual seaworthy vessel. This is the turning point in the boys' relationship. By working together, they get the boat down, and big brother finally lets Sim-n become a part of the action. The two happily sail off to Bongadongo, which Shelley's richly detailed, cartoonlike illustrations depict as a place complete with smoldering volcanoes, pirate ships, mermaids, serpents, and other creatures that live in the imagination of young boys. The art tells the story well through the boys' expressions and body language, and seamlessly blends the real world and the fantasy. This is a unique take on the adoption story.-Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

The day Mom and Dad went to pick up my new brother, I built a raft."" Imaginary sailing trips help the narrator cope with his new sibling. The fact that the new brother is an adopted older child is at first pointlessly obfuscated, but once readers catch on, they'll be won over by the story. The illustrations switch between fantastical and real-life tableaux. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

A passion for boats and sailing is fueled by sibling dynamics. "The day Mom and Dad went to pick up my new brother," the young narrator tells us, "I built a raft." Thus begins an obsession that lasts through many challenging projects, including a ship in a bottle made with Grandpa's help. The young redheaded sea lover makes bigger and more ornate ships, ignoring adopted brother Simon's pleas to let him be involved. Shelley beautifully renders tumultuous sea adventures, full of whitecaps and mythological creatures. A typhoon blows the boy out of a turbulent sea and back home, where Simon has found the vessel of the title. For the first time, the brothers work together and, using planks as oars, row through a lush panorama of sea lore. Sophisticated illustrations and prose are well-matched, and a valuable lesson subtly presented. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Brief text and fantastical illustrations tell this story about a little boy who learns to accept his newly adopted brother. Fascinated with the sea, the boy dreams of owning a boat and escapes through fantasy games played on homemade ships. His new brother, Simon, who appears to be of kindergarten age, always interferes. I want out of here! the boy finally explodes. Then a violent storm blows a small dinghy into a tree, and the boy and his new sibling work together to pull the boat from the branches. Some children may be confused by a few ink-and-watercolor illustrations that overlap real and imagined worlds, and an intriguing series of images in which the boy views a ship in a bottle, and then becomes trapped inside it, may be particularly challenging. The richly detailed vision will engage children, however, while the messages about working through sibling rivalry will hit home with many. One final note: it's nice to see a picture book about adoption in which the new arrival is an older child, rather than a baby. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2007 Booklist