Dec 18, 2015


by Carson Ellis

This lovely picture book shows a wide variety of places that people call home. Each page is a detailed illustration of a different kind of home- a city apartment, country home, thatched stone house on a mountainside. Some are really fanciful- the old woman's shoe from a nursery rhyme, an underground sea lair (my favorite, with the writhing octopus tentacles and wavy aquatic plants), a diminutive woodland house- for a fairy or elf, you must imagine. There are so many particular details, you can imagine what kind of person lives in each home and the sort of activities they do. The page showing the artist's own home is fun, as you can find objects, paintings and sketches in the room from most of the other illustrations in the book. Also there's a visual thread running through the entire thing- which I didn't notice until the second time I read this to my kid- of a mourning dove. The bird is present somewhere in each picture. Most of all, I loved the details of plants in the pictures- the variety of shapes, the fronds of sea plants and ferns- just lovely.

Note: I did not really think about how prevalent old, negative stereotypes are in this book -in the way it depicts the homes and lifestyles of non-European cultures- until I read the review in the third link below. Now it feels like a slap in the face. My four-year-old definitely wasn't astute enough to pick up on this either, but that's exactly the problem- the book will just define for her what other places and lives are like, if all she knows about Inuits are "that they live in igloos" for example. Sigh.

Rating: 4/5      40 pages, 2015

more opinions:
Things Mean a Lot
Rhapsody in Books
American Indians in Children's Literature


bermudaonion said...

It sounds like this book had so much potential. I love the illustrations.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

One of the things I love about the internet is how there are always people around presenting points of view you maybe didn't think of right away on your own. I definitely had books like this as a kid that shaped how I think about cultures other than my own (not necessarily in a good and nuanced way). :/