THE 91-STORY TREEHOUSE
Hi, my name is Andy.
This is my friend Terry.
We live in a tree.
Well, when I say “tree,” I mean treehouse. And when I say “treehouse,” I don’t just mean any old treehouse—I mean a 91-story treehouse! (It used to be a 78-story treehouse, but we’ve added another 13 stories.)
So what are you waiting for?
Come on up!
It’s got a tent with a fortune-teller called Madame Know-It-All,
a submarine sandwich shop that serves sandwiches the size of actual submarines,
the world’s most powerful whirlpool,
a mashed-potato-and-gravy train,
a spin-and-win prize wheel,
a trophy room,
a human pinball machine,
an air-traffic control tower,
a 91-story house of cards,
a giant spiderweb (with a giant spider!),
a desert island,
a garbage dump (with a mysterious old wardrobe on top),
and a big red button (which we’re not sure whether to push or not because we can’t remember what it does).
As well as being our home, the treehouse is also where we make books together. I write the words, and Terry draws the pictures.
As you can see, we’ve been doing this for quite a while now.
Sure, it’s easy to get distracted when you live in a 91-story treehouse …
but, somehow, we always get our book written in the end.
If you’re like most of our readers, you’re probably wondering what that big red button is for.
“Yeah, I’ve been wondering about that, too,” says Terry. “What does it do, Andy? I can’t remember.”
“I don’t know,” I say. “I can’t remember, either.”
“Then let’s push it and find out!” says Terry.
“No!” I say. “For all we know it might be one of those buttons that blows up the whole world!”
“But then again,” says Terry, “it might be one of those buttons that makes a rainbow come out of your nose.”
“Well, yes, maybe,” I say, “but do you really think it’s worth the risk of blowing up the whole world just to see if a rainbow comes out of your nose?”
“Um,” says Terry, “let me think about that for a moment … um …
“Yes?” says Terry.
“NO!” I say. “That’s the WRONG answer! Whatever you do, DO NOT push that button.”
“But I really, really, really want to know what it does!” says Terry. “Please let me push the button, please, please, please, pleeeeeeeeeeease!”
“No,” I say. “I’ve got a better idea. We’ll go and ask Madame Know-It-All what will happen if we push the button. She’ll know.”
“Who’s Madame Know-It-All?” says Terry.
“You know!” I say. “The fortune-teller.”
“Of course!” says Terry. “I knew that … at least I thought I did. What did you say her name was again?”
“Don’t worry about it,” I say. “Just follow me.”
We begin the long climb up and then down to Madame Know-It-All’s level.
We finally reach Madame Know-It-All’s tent and go inside. It’s dark and kind of spooky. Madame Know-It-All is sitting at a small round table, gazing into her large crystal ball.
“Greetings,” she says without looking up. “I’ve been expecting you.”
“You have?” says Terry.
“Of course,” says Madame Know-It-All. “I knew you were coming. And I know why you’re here. I know all there is to know—past, present, and future!”
“If you already know why we’re here,” I say, “then can you tell us the answer to our question?”
“Of course I can,” she says. “I am Madame Know-It-All. I can tell you the answer to every question. I know all there is to know—past, present, and—”
“We know!” I say.
“I know you know,” says Madame Know-It-All.
“We know you know we know,” I say, “so can you just tell us?”
“Yes,” says Madame Know-It-All, “but not until you ask me your question.”
“But you already know what our question is,” I say.
“I know,” she says, “but that’s just how this thing works. You ask a question, I tell you the answer in a cryptic rhyme.”
“Okay,” I say. “What we want to know is: What will happen if we push the big red button?”
Madame Know-It-All peers into her crystal ball and says:
It’s very large
And very red—
All who see it
Are filled with dread!
Madame Know-It-All jerks her head back and gasps.
“What is it?” I say. “What did you see?”
“I saw a big explosion,” she says, “and then … DOOM … more DOOM … and then even more DOOM … and then … nothing.”
“Just as I thought,” I say. “Thanks, Madame Know-It-All—we’ll see you soon.”
“Sooner than you think,” she replies as Terry and I step out of the tent into the daylight.
“Well,” I say. “Now we know for sure. Pushing the big red button will definitely blow up the whole world.”
“I guess so,” says Terry. “So does that mean we shouldn’t push it?”
“YES!” I say. “I mean NO! We absolutely should not push that button!”
“But why would we have made such a dangerous button in the first place?” says Terry.
“I don’t know,” I say. “I can’t remember.”
“Me neither,” says Terry. “Anyway, now that we’ve answered the readers’ question, does that mean it’s the end of the book?”
“I guess so,” I say.
“But we’re only up to page thirty-nine,” says Terry. “It seems a bit short.”
“Maybe we can see if the readers have any other questions they’d like answered,” I say.
“Good idea,” says Terry. “I’ll ask them.”
“Hey, readers! Do you have any other questions you would like answered?”
“I couldn’t understand them,” says Terry. “They were all talking at the same time!”
“They weren’t talking,” I say. “They were shouting! I don’t know what they want to know.”
“Hmmm,” says Terry, “I suppose if I were the reader, what I would most want to know is what’s going to happen in this book.”
“Me too,” I say.
“If only there were a way of finding out,” says Terry.
“There is,” I say. “We can ask Madame Know-It-All.”
We go back inside the tent.
“I knew you’d be back,” says Madame Know-It-All. “You have another question, don’t you?”
“Yes, we do!” says Terry. “Can you tell us the answer?”
“Of course I can,” she says. “I am Madame Know-It-All. I know … well, I know you already know how much I know, but before I can tell you what you want to know, you must ask me the question.”
“Can you tell us what’s going to happen in this book?” I say.
Madame Know-It-All gazes into her crystal ball.
Where once was two
There shall soon be a few.
You’ll have an important job to do:
A very busy man is counting on you.
If you let him down, this day you will rue.
I look at Terry.
Terry looks at me.
“I don’t get it,” says Terry.
“Me neither,” I say.
“But it’s perfectly clear!” says Madame Know-It-All.
“Can you just tell us?” I say.
Madame Know-It-All sighs. “I can’t just come out and tell you,” she says. “That’s not the fortune-telling way. But I can give you a hint—it rhymes with spaby-zitting.”
“Um … is it … fraby-hitting?” says Terry.
“No,” says Madame Know-It-All.
“Um … is it … shaby-knitting?” I say.
“No, of course not,” says Madame Know-It-All. “There’s no such thing as shaby-knitting!”
“What about … babysitting?” says Terry.
“Correct!” says Madame Know-It-All.
“Babysitting?!” I say. “But we don’t have any babies.”
“That’s right,” says Terry. “How are we going to be babysitters if we don’t have any babies?”
“You don’t have any yet,” says Madame Know-It-All, “but you soon will. Now go and answer the videophone. You have a caller.”
“No we don’t,” I say. “The phone isn’t even ringing.”
“Wow,” says Terry. “You really do know everything.”
“I know,” says Madame Know-It-All.
Text copyright © 2017 by Backyard Stories Pty Ltd.
Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Terry Denton