Book Review: Somebody Else’s Nut Tree

Somebody Else’s Nut Tree and Other Tales From Children
By Ruth Krauss
Illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Linnet Books, 1990
(First published by Harper & Brothers, 1958)
Age Range: 4-10

This book is nearly unique on the Caterpickles bookshelves in that it does not contain stories written for children by adults, but stories told by children to adults, or rather, one particular adult. As you might guess, we at Caterpickles Central are rather fond of it for precisely that reason. My daughter likes it because the sometimes random segues in the stories make perfect sense to her, and I like it because it gets my daughter thinking about writing down some stories of her own (as opposed to simply telling them to her kitten class during storytime).

Often books written in the 50s use terms that are outdated today (to say the least). This one isn’t too bad, as you might expect for a book authored by children (and edited by a careful adult). Stereotypes about Native Americans are alive and well in one story, but that’s about all I could find to get worked up about. (Feel free to enlighten me on things I’ve missed in the comments.)

This is a solid 3. On the one hand, my daughter listens to it with a smile on her face. On the other, when I’m done, she doesn’t want to read it again.

Some of the stories are pretty endearing, such as the one in which the beautiful debutante sucks up all the oxygen in the ballroom, or would, except that the other little girls at the ball didn’t care how beautiful the debutante was because they had such warm bathrobes. And the story in which the rainbow cracks and sprinkles happy spots all over the house beneath it. Other stories are funny, and some are just strange. But they all sound like children, and most of them, like children I know.

The illustrations are classic Sendak, drawn in a simple pen and ink style that pairs well with the simple storylines. My daughter would have preferred them to be in color, instead of black and white.

And now it’s your turn. What are you reading this week?

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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2 Responses to Book Review: Somebody Else’s Nut Tree

  1. Paul says:

    I am finishing the last book in the third (and supposedly last) trilogy of the Thomas Covenant series by Stephen R. Donaldson. Kids will not like these books. 🙂

    Previously I recently finished _Things Fall Apart_ by Chinua Achebe. This is an acclaimed African novel from 50 years ago. I very much liked it. Mom did too.


    • shalahowell says:

      I read Things Fall Apart a distressingly long time ago. I may need to pick it back up. I was thinking about you the other day. I’ve been trying to read Perdido Street Station by China Mieville lately. I’ll pick it up, read a bit, put it down and quite contentedly read something else. I can’t put my finger on what is so off putting to me about it. Have you read it?


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