The Great Green Tree and Magical Ladders: Metropolis

Stephen Kozan (Author), Claire Salmon (Illustrator)
ReadyAimWrite Publishing (2021)
ISBN 9781736320631
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (9/2021)

“They have their video games, terrible friends, and entitlement, and they see us as bugs. Not individuals. Not beings who have lives and families and things to do. All they want to do is step on us, spray us with chemicals, and stick us to glue traps!”–p. 47-48

Woven against a story of respecting nature and animals is an adventure in a big magic weeping willow. The depth of knowledge regarding nature, insects, and the ecosystem within “The Great Green Tree and Magical Ladders: Metropolis” is truly impressive, as it is nestled amongst a whirlwind adventure and important lessons of esteem, including empathy, respect, patience and more. Learning from the characters and animals within as Julien and readers alike pass each level’s lesson is much more enjoyable and concrete learning experience than being told time and time again by parents, as evidenced by our own main character’s experience.

Growing up, I LOVED reading “The Magic Treehouse” series. These books transported the characters and audiences to different time periods and locations around the globe. I was also an avid viewer of “The Magic School Bus” with Ms. Frizzle and class as they shrunk down and explored various themes each episode. “The Great Green Tree and Magical Ladders: Metropolis” gave me serious “Magic Treehouse” and “Magic School Bus” vibes, but instead of transplanting us to various locations readers are shrunk down and set to explore the ecosystem in the tree in their own backyard. 

The tree we venture into isn’t just any ordinary tree though, it is comprised of various levels and characters, including surfing spiders, boxing shrimp, and lab coat toads, among other creatures hidden within. Each level of the tree houses a different theme that our main character, Julien, must pass and understand prior to the next ladder appearing. To be invited to venture into the Great Green Tree Metropolis, one has to be on a destructive path, a path Julien has squarely landed on after burning his team’s soccer jerseys, knocking food out of people’s hands, and finally, destroying an entire beehive. As a reformed bad kid, Shea, Julien’s cousin, can’t wait to join Julien on his journey through the willow tree in his own backyard.

“The Great Green Tree and Magical Ladders: Metropolis” is the second book of this series by Stephen Kozan, the first book was Shea’s own journey through the Great Green Tree Suburbia within her backyard. A handful of characters from Shea’s own journey have returned in this installment but having not read the first book I was able to read this as a standalone given Kozan’s informative writing style.  The quality in which Kozan portrays the world within the Great Green Tree Metropolis, and its characters is impressively vivid as the weather, time passing, and various creatures encountered felt so real.  This is a book readers young and old will easily escape into as they venture alongside Shea, Julien, Webster and Wexley.

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