Teen Volunteer Review: The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino

The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino; translated by Archibald Colquhoun

As part of Boston Public Library's Teen Volunteer Program, teens share their thoughts on books, movies, and more on our blog. This week, Henry, a teen volunteer, is sharing his review of The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino:

The Baron in the Trees, originally published in Italy as Il barone rampante, is the fictional biography of an eighteenth-century nobleman who, at the age of twelve, retreats from ordinary society to live solely in the trees filling the town in which he lives; he never again touches the ground. It can be read on two levels: first, as an entertaining, relatively easy read, and second, as a parable of individuality that asks the reader, “To what extent should nonconformity be taken?”

Overall, I thought this book was generally enjoyable, although it espouses somewhat antique views on love and relationships. It dragged a little here and there, but not so much that it ever bored me. Similar in style to the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez, I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a shorter read with elements of humor, tranquility, irreverence, and reflection. It’s also a good start if you’re looking to become more familiar with foreign literature, as it’s not peppered with unfamiliar idioms and references (it does, however, reference certain Enlightenment figures whose names may be unfamiliar; this in no way detracts from the story or message).