by Andrew Peters

Chicken House
August 2011

Ages 10 – 14 . Grades 5 – 9

Library of Congress: 2010044484

Lexile measure: 750L



Arborium is at risk, the sharpened blades of rival Maw poised to saw off its bark and branches. What can a poor plumber's apprentice armed with little more than a monkey wrench do to stop the chopping?

Carved into a massive, mile-high canopy, the forest kingdom of Arborium stands upon the tallest of trees. Within them, 14-year-old Ark holds the lowest of jobs: unclogging toilets. He's already up to his elbows in gunk when he REALLY steps in it. He overhears a plot echoing through the pipes: Maw, a ruthless glass-and-steel superpower, is scheming to wield its axes of evil to strip Arborium of its wood -- a natural resource now more precious than gold.

The fate of a kingdom in the filthy hands of a plumber boy?

Plunged into danger, Ark must make the treacherous climb down to the darkest roots of RAVENWOOD if there's any hope of rescuing his threatened tree home!
Andrew Peters

ANDREW PETERS was born in Hildesheim, Germany, and raised in London, England. He has been climbing up and talking to trees ever since childhood. He now lives in Shropshire, England, with his wife and two children of their own.


  • In this otherworldly adventure, several teens struggle for survival while trying to preserve their home, a kingdom built amid the mile-high trees of Arborium. Peters (Do Not Wake the Devil) quickly establishes a sense of place and drops readers into the action by introducing Ark, a 14-year-old plumber's apprentice who accidentally overhears a treasonous plot and becomes a target to be silenced. Ark and his friend Mucum are on the run from their enemies while trying to warn the King of his imminent assassination. Their efforts take them from the very top of Arborium down into its roots, learning long-lost secrets along the way. As Ark comes into his destiny, facing off against monsters and traitors, he demonstrates what even a lowly plumber can accomplish through wits and determination. Although the heavy use of tree-related puns becomes tedious, and suggestions that Arborium might be a future Earth may leave readers with unanswered questions, the unique setting, memorable characters, and curious blend of fantasy and science fiction result in an action-filled epic with heart. Ages 9–14. (Aug.)
    -Publishers Weekly Web-Exclusive Review

  • Power-hungry industrial city Maw is poised to decimate the last bit of natural beauty in its vicinity: the
    Ravenwood, a living sprawl of massive trees and woven walkways that is the airy home of the Arborians.
    The only things standing between the Arborians and Maw are a young plumber\u2019s assistant named Ark, his
    blustery friend Mucum, and the magic of the wood itself. This is a classic tale in a number of ways, from
    the buddy relationship (optimistic hero accompanied by a roughneck sidekick) to the struggle between
    nature and man\u2019s drive to tame it for his own needs. There is imaginative, consistent world building here,
    although at times Peters gets overly clever; for instance, the tree-inhabiting Arborians occasionally
    exclaim \u201cBuddy Holly!\u201d and use \u201cbe-leaf\u201d for belief. There is also quite a bit of mucking about in sewagerelated
    situations as well as a budding love story—something for both genders, perhaps. Use this as a readaloud
    for middle- or upper-elementary students, or give to those who enjoy quest stories.
    — Cindy Welch, Booklist Advanced Review


--- - ! "With new eyes, he looked warily around at his world. All that he'd taken for granted: no longer safe. A humid mist blurred the edges of the huge leaves -- each one the size of a full-grown man. Above, below, behind, and in front, branch-lines and highways were woven and cantilevered together with rope, scaffolding, and a million iron nails. The whole sprawling treescape was punctuated by trunks of massive girth, large enough for the hundreds of houses, businesses, and hostels carved into the hollow depths. Ark had always believed that this vast island was the safest place on earth, lifted up and spread out as it was through the canopy of trees, a mile above the dank and dirty ground.
\tNot anymore."

Jacketed Hardcover / Adhesive

ISBN: 9780545305501

368pp. | 5-½ x 8-¼