We’d been waiting for this moment for months. And when I say ‘we‘, I don’t just mean ‘them‘, I mean me and him too.
Master Six and Master Nearly-Eight have read all the Storey Treehouse books, several times over. We’ve listened to them as audiobooks, several times over. They’ve written their own books (or started them anyway) that bear such a resemblance to the Griffiths’ pencraft that copyright is, categorically, an issue. In short, we LOVE the Griffiths/ Denton duo. And last night we were there in the Melbourne Town Hall, thanks to tickets bought months and months ago, to witness the launch of the next sacred installment – The 91-Storey Treehouse.
The book launch was as chaotic as it was charming. It was improvised, and silly. But it had every child in the house on the edge on their seats. Literally.
We arrived early at the venue, which was lucky; the queue for entry (with tickets) went for half a block. I felt like I was lining up for a glimpse of royalty or a footballer’s autograph. The kids were sure we’d miss the show (so little faith).
In good time however, we filed in through the stately doors, up the red-carpeted stairs and every single adult and child was then handed their own copy of The 91 Storey-Treehouse. Whether by accident or design, this was was a fantastic tactical move. It meant that the majority of the squillion kids packed in the hall were calm and quiet, as they ferociously ploughed through the pages.
After what seemed like an eternity to Master Six (‘how many more minutes?’), the house was called to order and the duo appeared.
Andy began by promising that this time, unlike last year’s launch, the event would be professional and serious. If you were to sketch the spectrum of professional and serious, you might have the coronation of Queen Elizabeth at one end and then you would put The 91-Storey Treehouse launch far, far, far away at the other end.
There were NERF Super Soakers, a mechanical singing cat, kids eating raw brussels sprouts, kids being pelted with raw brussels sprouts, Terry giving birth to a monkey, and toasters with wings.
The show’s finale went completely awry – the Readings Events Manager was quietly but urgently called upon to quell and dispel the scores of kids clawing at the stage for lollipops. We were all laughing, but I can’t have been the only adult thinking ‘kid-zombie apocalypse moment’.
The kids, however, were entranced (even those that didn’t get lollipops). They shouted and heckled and laughed for the full hour; adults too caught each other’s eyes and giggled.
For kids in Australia, Andy and Terry have achieved a near-royalty status. They may carry this responsibility lightly and with self-deprecation but they have etched out an empire, and created a swell of loyalty and love amongst their subjects. Their ability to get children, and predominately boys it seems, so excited about books is beneficent and magnificent. Long live King Andy and Prince Terry; may their treehouse continue to flourish and expand.