Tag Archive: home


busy busy little chick

Busy-Busy Little Chick by Janice N. Harrington, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Mama Nsoso and her chicks needed a new home.  They spent each night shivering and cold in their dark, damp nest.  So Mama Nsoso said that tomorrow they would start work on their new home.  But the first day, Mama Nsoso found worms to eat and decided to eat rather than build a house.  The family shivered through another night.  The next day there were crickets to eat and no work was done.  Except by Little Chick who set out to gather grasses and mud to create their new home.  His hard work resulted in a fine new home for them, and then he was off finding himself some delicious bugs to eat. 

Harrington writes like a storyteller.  Her words flow beautifully when shared aloud.  She has reworked a classic fable from the Nkundo people of Central Africa and throughout has woven in Lunkundo words from their language.  She has also added lots of sounds to the book, so there are wonderful patterns that emerge as the hen and her chicks move through their day.  She clearly enjoys wordplay and creating rhymes and rhythms, all of which make for a great book to share aloud.

Pinkney’s art is large and bold, filled with warm yellows and oranges.  He has created images of the hen and her little family isolated and floating in cold blues.  They are brilliant orange, evoking the warmth of family and shelter.  His art is simple but filled with moving lines and playfulness with white space. 

A great pick for spring story times, don’t be chicken to share this one.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

home for bird

A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead

Vernon, the toad, was out finding interesting things when he met Bird.  Bird wasn’t much for talking, not responding to anything that Vernon said, not even when he introduced Bird to his friends, Skunk and Porcupine.  Despite his silence (and his stiffness and button eyes) Vernon proceeded to show Bird around the river and forest.  But when Bird didn’t react even to watching clouds together, Vernon started to worry that Bird was depressed.  So Vernon and Bird set out to help Bird find his home.  They  looked at all sorts of homes, but none of them were right for Bird.  Then they came to a small blue house where they decided to stop for the night.  In the house was another small house, a cuckoo clock, up on the wall.  And that was where Bird and Vernon spent the night.  Until in the morning, Bird finally found his voice.

Stead writes and illustrates with a wonderful charm.  His writing is so solid that it is a joy to read aloud.  The story is carefully crafted and then playfully told, making for a book that is a pleasure to share.  Vernon is a character that children will relate easily and happily to.  Bird will immediately be recognized for the toy he is, but the story is less about that mistake by Vernon and more about the journey to find where Bird belongs.

The illustrations have a wonderful freedom to them, filled with swirls of color, that fill the air and cover the walls.  Stead draws the main characters with detailed fine lines, but their world is a more childlike, looser scrawl that reveals trees, flowers and dirt.   The way the detail plays against the less structured backgrounds adds to the cheer of the title.

Finding ones home, friendship and a grand quest fill this picture book to the brim and combine wonderfully with the charm of the illustrations.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

house held up by trees

House Held Up by Trees by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen

This is the story of a family and a house.  When the house was new, it stood upon a newly planted lawn where the trees had been removed.  It was bare, not even a stump left behind.  On either side of the bare lot were trees of all sorts, the kind that spread seeds and scents.  Two children lived in the new house and often played in the trees at the edges, watching their father care for the lawn.  Their father mowed down all of the small tree seedlings before they could get started at all.  But the children grew up, the man moved away to be closer to them, and the house was left alone.  Alone except for the trees, which grew and took over the barren lawn, and eventually lifted the house high on their shoulders.

Kooser writes with amazing depth here, each sentence resonant with meaning and feeling.  While the book can be read more lightly, the joy here is in that dark deep that lies behind the lines.  The story plays with man vs. wilderness, the American obsession with lawns, children being pulled to the edges to find their own wild spaces, and the return to nature in the end.  The writing is beautiful because of that ever-present ache that is there, the tug of the trees, the dance of the seeds.

Klassen has illustrated this book with such delicacy that it shows he feels that same amazing pull.  He lets us peek at the house from the shelter of the woods, our eyes almost aching with the bareness in the sun.  He captures the tree seeds in flight from high above, allowing us to fly with them and plant ourselves too.  He plays with light, shadow and darkness, just as Kooser does. 

This book is poetry, without the stanzas.  It is a picture book that has depth, courage and looks deeply into our relationship with nature and with our families.  Beautiful.  Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from library copy.

house in the woods

A House in the Woods by Inga Moore

One pig had built a den for herself in the woods with another pig next door in a hut.  The two pigs went exploring in the woods and when they returned home, they found a bear and a moose in their homes.  Unfortunately, the spaces were not made for such large animals and both the den and the hut collapsed!  So the four animals talk about what they could do and decide to build a home where they all could live.  They had no idea where to start, so they called in the Beavers who only asked to be paid in peanut-butter sandwiches.  Everyone worked together to build a marvelous house and then worked together to get the sandwiches made for the Beavers.  In the end, they had a cozy warm home just right for the four friends together.

This book is so warm and cozy with an old-fashioned feel.  The story embraces a spirit of friendship and cooperation without ever being didactic about it.  Instead the lessons are woven directly into the story and shown, never told.  The tone of the tale is gentle and cheerful with small touches throughout that bring the story to life.  Here is the paragraph when the four friends are finally asleep in their own home:

Soon the only sounds to be heard were the soft cheeps of sleepy birds roosting in the rafters, the tiny rustling of wood mice in the fallen leaves outside, and, just now and then, the gentle snoring of Bear.

Moore’s art has the same warm, old-fashioned feel as the story.  The animals are individuals with interesting personalities, who each contribute differently to the project.  Through the entire work is a feel of nature and home.

This charming book is a joy to read aloud and will delight listeners.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by:

I Know Here

I Know Here by Laurel Croza, illustrated by Matt James

The little girl in this story lives in a remote area of Saskatchewan where her father is helping to build a dam.  She lives in a trailer among a group of trailers.  There are woods to play in, a creek to catch frogs, and lots of animals.  But now her family is moving to Toronto.  Her teacher in their one-room school suggests that the children draw pictures to remind them of this place.  So the girl decides that she will draw a picture of her beloved home and all that surrounds it so that she can carry it with them to her new home, safe in her pocket. 

Croza’s words are understated and so allow us to really feel the emotion coming through them.  She has captured the emotions with skill and grace, not overwhelming them, but allowing them to stand on their own.  So many children have either moved or are about to move that this book will find a welcome audience and even better will offer children a way to deal with their emotions and what they miss or will miss. 

James’ illustrations are wild at times with a giant, alien frog on one.  They have intriguing perspectives and through the deep color also help reveal the emotions of the text.  They are imaginative and fantastical, capturing a world of wonder for the reader in their paint.

Few picture books have ever moved me to tears.  This is one of them.  There was such a bittersweet tone at the end that I responded from the gut.  Beautiful.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by:

 

A deeply-felt picture book, this picture book captures a setting with

The Inside Tree

The Inside Tree by Linda Smith, illustrated by David Parkins

Mr. Potter’s life was just right.  His house was just the right size for him and his teapot.  His yard had a single tree where birds swooped and under which his dog slept.  But then he looked out his window and noticed that the dog would be more comfortable inside by the fire.  So he brought the dog in.  However, now the tree was alone outside in the dark.  There was only one thing to do: bring the tree inside!  So Mr. Potter dug up the tree, wrestled it inside, and dug a hole through his floorboards for the tree roots.  All was fine until the tree needed more room.  Mr. Potter cut a hole in the ceiling and in came birds and the rain.  His home was very little cozy inside and mostly outside.  So Mr. Potter moved to the barn with his teapot, fireplace and dog.  That is, until he saw a lonely cow outside in the dark…

For all of us who fill our homes with plants, this book takes it to the extreme.  Smith’s writing offers the lilt of a storyteller, filled with just the right amount of rhythm.  She enjoys breaking sentences over a page turn, increasing the tension just that tiny bit.  It works very well in this humorous tale.  Parkins’ art is filled with great contrasts.  We have the perfect image of the small house in an idyllic setting.  Then there is the yellow and orange warmth of Mr. Potter’s clothing next to the fireside contrasted against the cool evening colors of the lonely dog and tree outside the window.  His use of small details adds to the warm feel of the home. This is used again in the barn where Mr. Potter eventually moves.

A unique book about trees and people, this is ideal for Arbor Day and Earth Day and will lend a hearty laugh to any collection of tree stories.  This is one to bark about, make sure not to leaf it too long.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

You and Me and Home Sweet Home by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Stephanie Anderson

In poetic form, Lyon tells the story of a young girl, Sharonda, and her mother who have a Habitat for Humanity house built for them.  The story moves from them living in a tiny room together in her Aunt Janey’s apartment and through the process of the home being built and completed.  Beginning with the empty lot and hope, the story is built as sturdily and lovingly as the home itself.

Lyon’s poetry does not rhyme and for most children will not read as a poem, but it is.  Filled with imagery, captured moments and truth it is a powerful message of community.  Anderson’s illustrations add so much to this book.  They too are real, concrete and yet elevated.  Her paintings have unique perspectives, strong emotions and great composition that allow for deep colors. 

A beautiful picture book that really speaks to the power of hope, community, and family.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Creaky Old House

Creaky Old House: A Topsy-Turvy Tale of a Real Fixer-Upper by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Michael Chesworth

A large family lives happily together in a big old house despite its creaking, leaking and cracks.  Everyone has their own favorite spots in the house that they treasure.  But one day, Pa heads out the front door and the doorknob comes off in his hand.  They find a screw, but it doesn’t fit.  So they head to the hardware store where they eventually find a doorknob to replace the old one.  But it doesn’t fit.  So they have to replace the entire door.  The new door though is too wide for the existing hole.  So everyone’s minds start to race, mentally repairing all of the house, moving the kitchen, lengthening halls. They finally come up with a favorite design, until everything is solved by the smallest child and they realize that their beloved house is still just fine the way it always has been.

The pleasure of this book two-fold.  It is in the family.  This large family of different personalities who all live together happily in one big home.  A family that dreams big dreams, but returns to loving what they always have.   It is also in the house itself with its colorful front door, winding staircase, dark attic, nooks and crannies. 

Ashman has written a book with a great sense of place, a wonderful romping pace, and nice humor.  Chesworth’s illustrations bring the family and house to life, especially in the cross-sections of the house that reveal so much to appreciate within its walls. 

A charming story of a tight-knit family and their aging house, this book will have readers wishing wistfully for their own Victorian.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Homegrown House

 

Homegrown House by Janet Wong, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Her grandmother is 65-years-old but has only lived in two houses!  The little girl on the other hand has lived in three houses already.  Grandma says she is lucky, but the girl doesn’t think so.  While her parents want a house near the water or a home from the glossy magazines, she yearns for a home that feels like her grandmother’s does.  That has walls of different colors, crowded closets, lavender drying in the garage.  With their next house, she has figured out exactly what to do, creating a place that really feels like home.

This book explores moving and what makes a house a home through poetry that is delightfully down-to-earth.  In her stanzas, Wong reveals so much about family, home and expectations in only a few words.  She also has a feel for simple pleasures and small details, that really ground the poetry and make it powerful.  Paired with Lewis’ watercolor illustrations, the poetry is brought further to life.  Lewis depicts the simple country world with a warm and natural feeling. 

Highly recommended for all library collections as families begin to move more and more and children seek their own definitions of home that they can move with them.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.

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