How high will Andy's treehouse go?

Andy Griffiths isn't finished with the Treehouse series just yet.
Andy Griffiths isn't finished with the Treehouse series just yet. Photo: Supplied

It's the one question every die-hard Andy Griffiths fan wants to ask - just how high can the treehouse go? The answer, while not a definite one, is delivered with Griffiths' trademark wit and humour. 

"Well there are no physical or legal limits for the treehouse," he says. "We had the building inspector come to visit in the 65 Storey Treehouse and he just wanted us to add a wheel-chair ramp, so that's fine.

"There may be a limit to the audience's attention though. I think there might be a couple more books, but we'll concentrate on finishing the 78 Storey Treehouse first."

News that Andy and illustrator Terry Denton have not finished with the Treehouse series just yet will be well received by young fans and their parents alike.

The Treehouse books have been delighting keen readers and encouraging reluctant ones for the past four years.

For the uninitiated, the series began with the 13 Storey Treehouse and features five books so far.

It centres on the adventures of friends Andy and Terry and their crazy treehouse which contains, among other things,  a watermelon-smashing level, a wave machine, a life-size snakes and ladders game (with real snakes and ladders) a rocket-powered carrot-launcher and a man eating shark tank. The treehouse grows 13 storeys higher and more ridiculous with each new edition. 

Together with his 23 other titles, the Treehouse books have helped make Griffiths one of Australia's most successful children's authors.

His other popular titles include the likes of The Day My Bum Went Psycho, Just Disgusting and The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow.

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He is now preparing to take to the stage for a special one off show with Number 1 New York Times best-selling US children's author Jeff Kinney as part of this month's Children's Festival of Moving Stories.

Kinney is author and illustrator of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series as well as an online game developer and designer. The popular pair's Sydney show promises to deliver "two hours of laughter, mayhem and stories".

Despite his own huge success, Griffiths says he might get a little nervous when he meets Kinney for the first time this weekend.

"I'll be the one asking him questions," Griffiths says. "I'll probably ask him for a drawing lesson and there's a chance I might go a little bit fan boy."

Griffiths' first book Just Tricking was published in 1997. However his steps on the road to becoming a children's author were taken when he was still at school himself. 

The now 54-year-old said he was about 10-years-old when he started writing snippets intended to amuse his classmates. He spent his school days scribbling jokes on pieces of paper and filling books with stories and cartoons to share with his peers.

"I would write funny stories for school friends to make them laugh," Griffiths remembers. "That really was my main aim, especially in in secondary school.

"If the teachers asked if I could do a nice normal sensible piece of writing I could do that too, but that wasn't what I was about.

"The real business was being transacted in the back row of the classroom."

Before becoming a published author Griffiths worked as an English teacher and a taxi driver. 

He is passionate about children's literacy and says he is pleased that his books have become defacto classroom readers in schools across the country.

"I wouldn't want them to become the official reader books thought, that would take their appeal away," Griffiths says.

He believes the success of his books stems in part from their mischievous nature and the fact the storylines take unexpected turns.

"For a child things do not have to be done a set way, unlike adults" he says.

"I think kids know that we can entertain lots of possibilities and it's just a game.

"We are playing that fun game of make believe on the page."

The Children's Festival of Moving Stories is part of the Sydney Writers' Festival and is returning for their second year.

Following it's huge success in 2014, the festival is doubling in size to run for the month of November and will see much-loved children's authors appearing across western Sydney. 

In addition to Griffiths and Kinney, this year's festival will feature 30 of Australia's best authors and illustrators for children.

Highlights of the program include the much-loved mobile book exchange Russ the Story Bus, the Children's Author Roadshow and the Primary School Day. Children all across Western Sydney will also have the chance to publish the stories of their lives online in the My Story project.

Details of the Children's Festival of Moving Stories events can be found on the festival website  www.swf.org.au/childrens-festival-of-moving-stories/ 

Jeff Kinney and Andy Griffiths Live on Stage! is on the Recital Hall Angel Place, Sydney on this Sunday, November 8. Click here for details and to purchase tickets.

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