Book Review: Up In The Leaves: True Story of Central Park Treehouses

By Shira Boss; Illustrated by Jamey Christoph

By Amanda Elshahawi, Creator, Enchanted Literacy April 11, 2022

Recommended Ages 4  -8 years

Did you know there were once hidden treehouses throughout Central Park? From 1978 to 1986, Bob Redman built 13 treehouses in the park between 79th and 86th streets. His largest and final treehouse was named Spacecraft Epsilon Eriani and had five rooms equipped with ladders, rope bridges, tables and chairs. Each treehouse he built, he tried to camouflage to escape notice. Once he was finally caught by the parks department who noted his admirable craftsmanship and his care to not harm any of the trees while building his dwellings. 

The story, Up In The Leaves, is the story of Redman escaping the hustle and bustle the city pushed on him, to the freedom of the trees. The descriptive words paired with the clean and bright illustrations draw you into the story. Its use of onomatopoeia intrigued my daughter and made the story more rhythmic.

One element of this real-life story I liked was the park director’s response to Bob. Trees are such a key element to the park and ensuring they are well cared for is an important job. Upon seeing Bob’s skill of climbing and still maintaining the integrity of the trees, the director offered Bob a job.  

Though we can’t build treehouses in the park now, this book can encourage young ones to build their own models, create their own play in the park's trees and explore ways to care for the nature around them. If you want to read more about Bob Redman’s story you can look here for an article from 1986. 

Amanda is a preschool teacher, mother and avid Central Park picnicker. She values community and is an advocate for families in the foster care system. One day she hopes to publish a children's book of her own. In the meantime, you can follow her Instagram, Enchanted Literacy, which encourages imagination and passion for reading.