Tag Archives: Moving

PPBF – The Blue House

I’m continuing with the theme of houses, and homes, and families this week, as my guess is those are themes on all of our minds this holiday season. I think I’ve found the Perfect Picture Book to do so.

Title: The Blue House

Written & Illustrated By: Phoebe Wahl

Publisher/Date: Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House Children’s Books/2020

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: moving, home, single-parent household, urban renewal, overcoming loss

Opening:

Leo lived with his dad in an old blue house next to a tall fir tree.

Brief Synopsis: When Leo and his father are evicted from their beloved rental home, they are sad, but eventually find home in their new house.

Links to Resources:

  • What do you most like about your house? Draw a picture showing your favorite room or feature;
  • If you could change one thing about your home or room, what would it be? Why?
  • Leo and his father bake pie together. Try making this kid-friendly apple pie.

Why I Like this Book:

With its colorful, detailed illustrations and poignant story, The Blue House is a wonderful new picture book about moving and recreating home in a new location.

It’s clear at the outset that Leo and his father love living in the old blue house, despite the peeling paint, “leaks and creaks”, and the old heater that cuts out in the middle of winter. But sadly, they’re renters, and their landlord sells the house out from under them to make way for a bigger, newer, multi-family structure in its stead. With older children, this situation presents a wonderful opportunity to discuss the issues of urban renewal, the need for more multi-family units in many urban centers, and the pros and cons of tear-downs.

I love how Wahl shows readers that many activities can serve different purposes. Leo and his father bake a pie to warm up the old house and to help make the new house feel like home. They dance to keep warm, they “danced and stomped and raged” to feel “a little less mad” about the upcoming move, and they “danced and stomped and sang” in the new house. And they draw on the walls for different purposes, too, which I won’t share here as I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone.

For those who are in the midst of a move, just moved, or, like me, move often, I think Wahl’s description of the old house as “echoey and drafty like a hollow shell” will resonate. So, too, will her description of the new house as “empty, too. It didn’t feel like home”, at least not yet.

With its themes of making a house into a home, the bond between a loving parent and child, and overcoming loss, I think The Blue House is a perfect picture book for all families to savor and share.

A Note about Craft:

I love the thinly-veiled references to well-known books and music that Wahl, an author-illustrator, includes in the book. From The Hobbin to Talking Hens and Corn in the USA, I think adults will love spotting cultural references in the illustrations and sharing them with their little ones.

The Blue House features a father and son living on their own and dealing with the loss of their beloved rental home. No reference is made to a second parent and why he or she is not there. In my mind, this adds another layer to this heartfelt story, making me wonder whether that third family member may have resided in the blue house with Leo and his father.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – Home is a Window

Have you ever wondered what makes a house a home? As someone who has moved more times than I can count, including several moves when our kids were young, the desire to create a home is never far from my mind. Especially as we head into a season filled with family holidays, feeling at home wherever you live is so important. Which is why I knew I had to read and review today’s Perfect Picture Book which addresses just that question.

Title: Home is a Window

Written By: Stephanie Parsley Ledyard

Illustrated By: Chris Sasaki

Publisher/Date: Neal Porter Books, Holiday House/2019

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: home, family, community, moving, comfort

Opening:

Home is a window, a doorway, a rug, a basket for your shoes.

Brief Synopsis: A young girl reflects on what’s special about her urban home, and when she moves, discovers special aspects of her new home.

Links to Resources:

  • Describe with words or pictures what you like best about the house or apartment where you live;
  • If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? Why?
  • Have you ever wanted to design features of your own home? Check out these kid-friendly DIY design ideas;
  • Check out the Educator’s Guide for more ideas.

Why I Like this Book:

As the first lines of Home is a Window make clear, home can mean many things, as long as they contribute to feelings of comfort and safety. In the first section of this picture book, we see the many things that make this living space a home from the perspective of a young girl and her family. They include such universal pleasures as comfortable furniture, tasks done together, neighbor’s lights shining warmly into your bedroom, and a “table with something good and the people gathered there.” As the text makes clear, “Home is what feels the same each day”.

But what happens when you have to leave the comfort and safety of a familiar living arrangement and move someplace new? By bringing our traditions and the things we love with us, we can recreate home in a new place, as Home is a Window shows.

I love that Sasaki features the family coming together in the new house to share a meal. They might sit on a “patched-up quilt” on the floor and eat take-out food, but it’s clear that this family is well on their way to establishing a home in their new house.

With its low word count and earth-toned images of a loving mixed-raced family and their home, I think Home is a Window is a wonderful book to share with your littles, whether you’re contemplating a move, adapting to a new living situation, or wanting to share what makes your house or apartment a home.  

A Note about Craft:

I love the imagery and symbolism of the title, that home is a window – a means to look in to see the lives lived within its walls, and to look out to view the family’s interactions with their old and new communities.

Note the use of background colors: they become increasingly darker as moving day looms, and then lighten as the family creates a home in their new house.

A House, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books/2021) would be a good book to pair with Home is a Window, especially with younger children.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – The Pond

Transitioning to a new home or community is a recurrent theme of many of the picture books I review. But as frequent movers know, moving generally doesn’t occur in the absence of other difficult transitions, as today’s Perfect Picture Book shows.

Title: The Pond

Written By: Nicola Davies

Illustrated By: Cathy Fisher

Publisher/Date: Graffeg Limited/2017

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: death, grief, moving, new beginnings, nature, healing

Opening:

Dad talked a lot about the pond. “There will be tadpoles,” he said, “and dragonflies.” Mum told him that our garden was too tiny and my brother said that ponds were gross and stinky.

Brief Synopsis: The narrator’s father dreamt of creating a pond in the back garden. But when he died, the pond was just a messy hole until it wasn’t.

Links to Resources:

  • Check out these fun pond-themed activities;
  • Do you enjoy a particular place or activity with a parent or grandparent? Draw a picture of what you enjoyed together.

Why I Like this Book:

When the young narrator’s father dies, he finds comfort in his father’s dream of building a pond in their back garden. At first, the pond is little more than “a muddy messy hole that filled our garden…that filled our hearts.” Neither the narrator’s mother nor his brother are interested in fulfilling the dream of a pond. When a duck lands in the muddy hole and the narrator adds water from a hose, more mess ensues, and the narrator runs to his room “and screamed at Dad for dying.”

Then, one day the following spring, someone, presumably Mum, lined the hole with plastic and shored up the edges. The narrator filled it with water, expecting no more by this point than “a hole with water in it.” But nature had other thoughts, “our pond had come to life.”

From the text and the gorgeously-dark illustrations, it’s clear that nature has provided the family hope in the midst of grief. I think this is a wonderful and soothing reminder to children who have lost loved ones to seek solace in nature and to continue pursuing their loved one’s dreams.

But there’s more to this poignant journey through grief. After finally finding solace in nature, the family move from the house, obviously unable to bring the pond with them. I’m sure you can guess their first activity in the new house, but I urge you to read The Pond to find out, and to share it with anyone grieving or moving.

A Note about Craft:

Davis could have ended the story when the pond came to life and provided solace to the grieving family. But she upped the tension with the addition of a move and the necessity of leaving the pond behind.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – Anita and the Dragons

Regular readers know that I love stories that feature moving house, especially when they involve international moves. I recently read a new picture book about a move from the Dominican Republic to the United States that I think you’ll agree is a Perfect Picture Book!  

Title: Anita and the Dragons

Written By: Hannah Carmona

Illustrated By: Anna Cunha

Publisher/Date: Lantana Publishing/2021

Suitable for Ages: 3+

Themes/Topics: emigration, imagination, bravery, moving

Opening:

Today is the day I will meet the dragons – large winged beasts who will carry me away. For years, I have watched the dragons high above me as I play, hopping from one cement roof to another. Their snarls shake the gravel roads.

But being the valiant princesa I am, I never let them scare me!

Brief Synopsis: Anita, a young girl with a vivid imagination, prepares to emigrate from her native Dominican Republic.

Links to Resources:

  • Anita and her family live in the Dominican Republic. Learn more about this Caribbean country;
  • Anita describes airplanes as dragons. How are airplanes like dragons? How are they different? Draw a picture of an airplane, a dragon, or a dragon airplane;
  • Reread the opening lines, “Today is the day I will…” What will you do today to overcome a fear, complete a task, or fulfill a dream?
  • Check out a few other activities and coloring sheets here.

Why I Like this Book:

With courage and imagination, Anita, a young Dominican princesa, prepares to enter the belly of a dragon with her family and fly to a new home. I love how Anita portrays the airplanes that fly overhead as dragons, dragons that she will conquer. I think kids will relate to her worldview and plucky spirit. Those with siblings will enjoy how she dismisses her brother for questioning that they live in a palace, stating simply that she would never allow “a toad like you inside my walls”.

Those who have faced new situations will understand the physical manifestations of fear, the sweat, the clenched stomach, clammy hands, and a “rock the size of my fist” landing “with a plunk in the empty pit of my stomach.” Despite this fear, despite the necessity of saying goodbye to beloved family members and their island home, Anita and her family bravely “stand strong”, entering the beast’s belly to journey towards “new adventures”.

I love how the focus of Anita and the Dragons is on the courage and strength Anita displays as she and her family leave the beloved familiar and journey into the great unknown. Because Anita is such a strong character, I felt no doubt by story’s end that she would conquer her new homeland and establish a new palace there, one befitting a true princesa.

The beautiful pastel illustrations evoke Anita’s island homeland while a stylized illustration of an airplane makes clear that the family is journeying to the United States.

Anita and the Dragons is a wonderful choice for classroom and family reading with its many opportunities to discuss the differences between island life and life in an American city and ways we can overcome our fears to embrace new adventures.

A Note about Craft:

From the assertive first line, “Today is the day I will meet the dragons”, to the hopeful ending with its promise of “new adventures,” Carmona has crafted a picture book that showcases a strong main character overcoming her fears. I think by analogizing the airplanes to dragons, an image I think many kids will relate to, and by characterizing Anita as a brave princesa, a character I think many kids will want to emulate, Carmona shows readers that they, too, can adapt to change, even a major change like an international move. I also think it’s refreshing that Carmona highlights the positives of Anita’s life in the Dominican Republic and some things that await them in the United States. Finally, Carmona includes a scene in which Anita vows that she will return to “my island”, that she “will see you again.” I think this accurately reflects the experience of those who emigrate but hold their place of origin in their hearts and, when able, return home, even if simply to visit.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – Ten Beautiful Things

We’re embarking on another intergenerational journey in today’s Perfect Picture Book. And it involves one of my favorite themes – moving. Enjoy!

Title: Ten Beautiful Things

Written By: Molly Beth Griffin

Illustrated By: Maribel Lechuga

Publisher/Date: Charlesbridge/2021

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: journey, intergenerational, moving, loss, beauty of nature

Opening:

Lily ran her finger across the Iowa map. An X marked Gram’s house on an empty patch of land. Lily’s new home.

Brief Synopsis: Lily’s Gram invites her to find ten beautiful things along the road as they journey to Lily’s new home.

Links to Resources:

  • Take a walk or a bike or car ride and find ten beautiful things. Why do you think they’re beautiful?
  • Try one or more of these 9 road trip games that don’t involve a smart phone or other screened device;
  • Find more resources in this Activity Kit.

Why I Like this Book:

Ten Beautiful Things is a story about a journey undertaken by Lily and her Gram to Lily’s new home, where she’ll live with her grandmother. The reader learns at the outset that the house sits “on an empty patch of land” (emphasis added). Lily feels hollow inside. It’s clear right at the get-go that Lily isn’t happy about her new home. Who would be? Something clearly is amiss.

But Lily’s wise Gram doesn’t focus on what’s wrong. She doesn’t pass the time with idle chatter or platitudes like, “everything will be alright.” Instead, this wise Gram invites Lily to redirect her attentions, to focus outside herself, to find ten beautiful things along the highways and byways of their journey through Iowa.

Many of these beautiful things involve nature, like a young calf, the rising sun, or a gurgling creek. Others are human-made, like a crumbling barn or windmill blades gleaming in sunshine. What they have in common is that they invite Lily to fill the hollow spaces in herself with the beauty that surrounds her.

I think anyone who has experienced a bad mood, a difficult situation, or even depression can relate to the relief, even if it’s temporary, found when they notice small pleasures: rain tip-tapping on a metal roof, a rainbow, or the swoop of a colorful bird near their window. Ten Beautiful Things is a reminder to kids and adults of all ages to “stop and smell the roses”, that regardless of how bad you may feel, there is beauty in this world.

Lechuga’s sweeping vistas provide the perfect backdrop to this tale. I can imagine children finding other beautiful things within these detailed illustrations, including several different species of birds which fly through the spreads.

Ten Beautiful Things is a lovely book for grandparents to share with their grandchildren, or for classroom discussions of difficult situations, like the loss of a loved one, a change in schools, or a difficult move.

A Note about Craft:

Griffin never states in the text why Lily is moving into Gram’s house. The reader also doesn’t know whether this is a temporary or a permanent situation. The reader knows merely that Lily is sad about the move. I think it’s helpful that Griffin doesn’t specify either the reason for the move or its duration, as I think children who may find themselves in a similar situation may be better able to picture themselves in the story and empathize with Lily.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – In a Jar

As a serial mover, I’m drawn to tales involving someone who moves houses. Today’s Perfect Picture Book is one of the more lyrical and beautiful recent ones.

Title: In a Jar

Written & Illustrated By: Deborah Marcero

Publisher/Date: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House/2020

Suitable for Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: collecting, wonder, friendship, loss, moving

Opening:

Llewellyn was a collector. He collected things in jars.

Brief Synopsis: When a young collector finds a like-minded friend, they enjoy collecting together, until this new friend moves away.

Links to Resources:

  • Do you collect anything? Draw a picture of something you’ve collected and share it with a friend;
  • Collect a memory by writing about it or by photographing or drawing a picture of the event. If your memory involves a favorite food, try making the special food for your family or a friend;
  • Ask an adult to add beans, marbles, coins, or buttons to a jar. Try to guess how many fit;
  • Find a pen pal and exchange letters with them. Here’s a listing of organizations that encourage letters to people like astronauts, authors, seniors, kids in other countries, and more.

Why I Like this Book:

This heart-warming story features a young rabbit, Llewllyn, who collects ordinary items and some hard-to-capture natural wonders in jars. When he shares a jar filled with a gorgeous sunset with Evelyn, the two become fast friends. They collect so much together, and I think kids will love the spreads filled with illustrations of collected memories in jars.

But when Evelyn and her family move away, “Llewellyn’s heart felt like an empty jar.” Experiencing the loss of a friend or family member because of a move, change of schools, or even death is so difficult for kids. Especially in this year of loneliness and loss, I think this exploration of how Llewellyn and Evelyn deal with loss will comfort many kids, and adults. I won’t ruin the ending, but I will share that Llewllyn found a way to continue the friendship from afar, and even make a new friend.

From the stunning spreads with so many details in the many featured jars and the lyrical language, to the message of friendship and sharing, to showing kids how to overcome loss, In a Jar shines on so many levels and is deserving of the many starred reviews it has received.

A Note about Craft:

I confess that when I first saw the title of this book, I couldn’t imagine what it would be about, although the cover illustration of two rabbits surrounded by bluebells instantly caught my eye and beckoned me to read on. But collecting things in a jar is such a kid-relatable activity. The idea of collecting larger items, memories, or intangible things like rainbows, sounds, and the wind in a jar could also seem plausible to little ones. I can imagine them pouring over the illustrations containing jars of all shapes and sizes filled with all of the wonders of nature and more.

Upon reflection, I think Marcero also uses the jar as a metaphor for memory and emotions. Most poignantly, she compares Llewellyn’s heart to “an empty jar.” How beautiful is that!

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – Birdsong

For my first Perfect Picture Book of the spring, I chose a quiet book filled with friendship and nature. Enjoy!

Title: Birdsong

Written & Illustrated By: Julie Flett

Publisher/Date: Greystone Books/2019

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: moving, #OwnVoices, nature, intergenerational, creativity, friendship

Opening:

Spring

It’s a mucky spring morning as we pack up the last of our belongings and leave our little home in the city by the sea.

I’m going to miss my friends and cousins and aunties and uncles. I’m going to miss my bedroom window and the tree outside.

“Goodbye, tree friend,” I whisper.

Brief Synopsis:

When a lonely young girl moves to a new home, she becomes friends with an elderly neighbor who helps her discover the beauty of her new surroundings.

Links to Resources:

  • Have you moved from one house or neighborhood to another one? Draw a picture of something you miss from your old house or something you like in your new home;
  • In the summer time, Katherena’s new home “hums with peeps and whistles and ribbits and chirps.” What do you hear when you’re outside?
  • Check out the Teachers Guide for more resources.

Why I Like this Book:

Arranged by seasons and incorporating a few Cree words, Birdsong is a beautiful and multi-layered picture book that explores how one young girl adapts to her new home and life through her interactions with a kindly neighbor. As a serial mover whose kids have trouble naming their hometown, I can relate to Katherena’s sadness at leaving family and friends behind and venturing to a new, unfamiliar location.

An art lover, Katherena has no desire to draw in her new home until she meets Agnes, an elderly neighbor who shares her own creative endeavors and the beauty of her garden. Through Agnes, Katherena learns to appreciate the beauty of her new surroundings, and the two share their art and cultures.

I love that Flett highlights the power of intergenerational friendship, especially as both friends learn from each other and benefit from the relationship. I also love how nature, including the birds in the title, provides a bond between these neighbors.

The soft pastel and pencil illustrations provide sweeping views of nature, a lovely invitation to go outside and explore our own bit of the world.

A Note about Craft:

Flett perfectly ties together so many themes in this quietly beautiful picture book: moving, loneliness, creativity, Cree language and culture, friendship, and intergenerational relationships.

She arranges Birdsong by seasons, an apt metaphor, I think, for life as the two main characters, young Katherena and elderly Agnes, are in the different seasons of their lives.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – My Favorite Memories

Regular readers know that I gravitate to stories about moving, so when I find a new picture book about this topic, I just have to review it!

Title: My Favorite Memories

Written By: Sepideh Sarihi

Illustrated By: Julie Völk

Translated By: Elisabeth Llauffer

Publisher/Date: Blue Dot Kids Press/2020 (German edition, Beltz & Gelberg/2018)

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: moving, memories, change, resilience

Opening:

I was brushing my hair when Papa came in and told me we were moving. Mama was very excited. Papa too.

Brief Synopsis:

When a young girl and her family move to a new country, she wants to bring everything she loves with her.

Links to Resources:

  • What are your most favorite things? Make a list or draw a few of them;
  • Do your favorite things fit in a bag, box, or suitcase? How would you pack them if you, like the narrator in the story, were moving house or even country?
  • Have you and your family moved, or do you live far from close relatives or friends? How did you feel if you moved? How do you keep in contact with close relatives who live far away?

Why I Like this Book:

Change is difficult for everyone, especially when it’s a big change, like moving house or countries. And when leaving is expected to be permanent, it’s especially difficult to determine what to bring to your new home to remind you of your old life.

Such is the dilemma explored in My Favorite Memories. Narrated by an unnamed young girl in spare, direct text, this story draws readers in and helps children empathize with those who leave everything behind to seek safety and economic well-being in a new place.

The soft palette of the illustrations add to the beauty of this book. Whether you’re contemplating a move, just moved, or seeking to welcome others into your community, My Favorite Memories is a wonderful picture book to share at home or in the classroom.

A Note about Craft:

Sarihi’s use of first-person point-of-view brings an immediacy to the text which, I think, will help children empathize with the narrator. Per the jacket flap, Sarihi was born in Iran but immigrated to Germany in 2012. My Favorite Memories is thus an #OwnVoices work.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – Hello Goodbye, Little Island

Today’s Perfect Picture Book is set on the island of Singapore, a place I sadly have not visited…yet! But I think readers still wary/unable to stray far from home will enjoy this virtual visit. I know I did!

And while reading is a wonderful way to escape the confines of home, our library is only open on a limited basis for the foreseeable future with no interlibrary loan service (my “local” is one of the smaller libraries, so most books I review I order through interlibrary loan). In light of the difficulty of obtaining books to review at present, I’ve decided to take a break for the summer. If I’m able to get my hands on a book or two to review, I may post periodically, but otherwise, I look forward to resuming in the fall. Enjoy the summer! Happy reading!

Title: Hello Goodbye, Little Island

Written By: Leila Boukarim

Illustrated By: Barbara Moxham

Publisher/Date: Marshall Cavendish Children/2018

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: moving, friendship

Opening:

Maja had moved to the little island with her family not long ago.

Brief Synopsis: Sad to have left her former home, Maja begins to like living in her new island home when she meets a friend. But when that friend moves away, Maja is again sad and lonely, until she finds a new friend.

Links to Resources:

  • Have you moved to a new house, school, or community? How did you feel? Draw a picture of something that you like about your new home, school, or community;
  • If there’s a new student in your class at school this fall, try to help them feel welcome. Think of some favorite activities that you could share with them;
  • This story takes place on the island nation of Singapore. Singapore icons are incorporated into the illustrations, and they are explained in the back matter. Readers can search the illustrations for them as a seek-and-find game.

Why I Like this Book:

Moving homes, schools, and countries is difficult for anyone, but especially so for young children. So it is that Maja, the main character of Hello Goodbye, Little Island finds the food, vegetation, and climate strange in her new home, and she repeatedly asks when the family can return to their old, familiar home.

When Maja starts a new, larger school and meets a friend through whose eyes she can see the little island, “it was not so strange anymore.” But like several places where my family lived when our children were young, Maja’s new school was filled with expat families, who remained only a few years in one location. Maja’s new friend was leaving!

Once again, Maja “found herself in a strange land”, with everything seeming “different”. Until, that is, Maja discovered a new friend.

Boukarim captures Maja’s dejection at losing a friend and her happiness at finding a new friend, two feelings that children who have moved house, schools, or communities will be able to relate to well. I also like that Maja and Nour, her new friend, expand their friend circle to include a lonely boy who also is new and misses a friend.

Because Hello Goodbye, Little Island is set in Singapore, an island nation in which many expatriates live and work for a few years at a time, Boukarim populates the story with children from diverse backgrounds and cultures. I like how these characters see the beauty in their differences and learn from each other.

Moxham’s unique illustrations are a combination of collaged photographs and black and white illustrations, with icons of Singapore scattered throughout.

A Note about Craft:

In addition to featuring an endearing main character, Maja, who enjoys quiet time spent with friends, Boukarim features many items and activities found in Singapore. I think these specifics, which are new to Maja, help readers understand and empathize with her feelings of loneliness and being in a “strange” place. Adding the seek and find layer to the story increases its re-readability, and this also may expand the age range to older children interested in learning about Singapore.

This Perfect Picture Book entry will be added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

 

Perfect Pairing Stays Home

Two recent picture books explore the concept of home, which, as a serial mover, is a topic near and dear to my heart, especially now, as so many of us are spending most of our time at home.

Home in the Woods

Author & Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler

Publisher/Date: Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House/2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: family, home, Great Depression, poverty

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

This picture book from Eliza Wheeler is based on her grandmother’s childhood and pays homage to a family’s fortitude as they discover the meaning of home.

Eliza Wheeler’s book tells the story of what happens when six-year-old Marvel, her seven siblings, and their mom must start all over again after their father has died. Deep in the woods of Wisconsin they find a tar-paper shack. It doesn’t seem like much of a home, but they soon start seeing what it could be. During their first year it’s a struggle to maintain the shack and make sure they have enough to eat. But each season also brings its own delights and blessings–and the children always find a way to have fun. Most importantly, the family finds immense joy in being together, surrounded by nature. And slowly, their little shack starts feeling like a true home–warm, bright, and filled up with love.

Read reviews at Miss Marple’s Musings and Leslie Leibhardt Goodman’s blog.

 

Home Is a Window

Author: Stephanie Parsley Ledyard

Illustrator: Chris Sasaki

Publisher/Date: Neal Porter Books, an imprint of Holiday House Publishing/2019

Ages: 4-7

Themes: home, family, moving

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A family learns what home really means, as they leave one beloved residence and make a new home in another.

Home can be many things—a window, a doorway, a rug…or a hug. At home, everything always feels the same: comfortable and safe.

But sometimes things change, and a home must be left behind.

Follow a family as they move out of their beloved, familiar house and learn that they can bring everything they love about their old home to the new one, because they still have each other. This heartfelt picture book by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard is richly illustrated by former Pixar animator Chris Sasaki.

Read a review at Kirkus Reviews.

I paired these books because they explore the concept of home. Based on the life of author-illustrator Wheeler’s grandmother, Home in the Woods follows a mother and her children who relocate to a shack in the woods when they lose their home during the Great Depression. In Home is a Window, a mixed-race family relocates from a beloved home in the city to a new house in the suburbs. Both books make clear that home is a place where one’s loving family lives & shares happy times together, and even, as in times like these, finds safety and security.