Book Review: Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House by Libby Gleeson


Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

When Clancy and his family move to a new house, everyone is delighted, except Clancy.  Clancy think everything about the new house is too big.  He fondly remembers his old room, the old fireplace, the old house.  Clancy heads outside to play and discovers the huge pile of cardboard boxes left from the move.  He starts to play in them and then hears someone’s voice.  It’s Millie, a new neighbor.  The two play together with the boxes, finally building a house out of them, a very fine house.

Gleeson has captured the uncertainty of a move.  She never descends into melodrama here, instead speaking directly to Clancy’s feelings and reactions to the new home.  Children who have experienced a move, even one they enjoyed, will recognize the emotions here.  Gleeson’s use of the moving boxes as a way to deal with the move and make a new friend is very clever.  They change from a symbol of what Clancy moved away from into a symbol of what he moved to. 

Blackwood’s illustrations show the move from Clancy’s point of view.  The rooms of the new house loom, gray and empty around him.  The images from his memories are brighter and cozier, clearly contrasting with the new home.  The tower of boxes seems taller than the houses when Clancy heads outside.  The potential is there is the gravity-defying stack. 

This is a great book about moving, making new friends, and the power of imagination to create new connections and memories.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.