Review of Little Houses

Little Houses Little Houses
by Kevin Henkes; illus. by Laura Dronzek
Preschool, Primary    Greenwillow    40 pp.  g
5/22    978-0-06-296572-1    $18.99
Library ed.  978-0-06-296573-8    $19.89

A pigtailed child visits her grandparents at the shore, where the waves call them to explore the sands just outside the steps of their small seaside house. Amid the colorful detritus left behind by the waves, the girl and her grandmother search for shells of every kind. “Grandma reminds me that the shells are little houses. And that gets me thinking,” the child says, as she begins to wonder about the inhabitants of these tiny homes. Her mind wanders further out into the deep, where one could find “fish as big as cars…lost toys, lost coins, lots of lost things that were cried over.” The girl’s grandfather, too, looks in awe at the water and his grandchild, noting that she just may “know it all” someday. A collection of shells, though, is enough to satisfy the child until that someday arrives. Dronzek’s recognizably bold-hued, naturalistic acrylic illustrations maintain the windswept qualities of a visit to the beach, infusing the quiet and meditative narrative with movement. Thoughtful page design alternates between spot art, images within a borderless ellipse-shaped frame, and full-bleed double-page spreads, uniting the child reader and the child narrator on their journeys to consider both the small and the vast. Henkes and Dronzek’s latest pitch-perfect collaboration (Summer Song, rev. 3/21) offers an intimate multigenerational narrative that captures children’s hopeful curiosity about our shared home.

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Grace McKinney
Grace McKinney Beermann

Grace McKinney Beermann holds an MA in Children's Literature from Simmons University and reviews for the Horn Book Magazine. She works at a Montessori school in St. Louis, Missouri, and writes about children's books and Montessori on the blog Cosmic Bookshelf.

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