Review: Emily’s House

Emily's House EditorsPick (2)

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Format: Picture book
Age: 1-3
Author: Niko Scharer
Illustrator: Joanne Fitzgerald
Publisher: Groundwood Books (March 2010)
Pages: 24
ISBN-10: 0888998317
ISBN-13: 978-0888998316

There is an old Jewish story about a farmer whose noisy wife and children and grandparents are driving him crazy. The farmer goes to see his rabbi, who advises him to bring some chickens into his house. Then the rabbi tells him to bring his sheep inside. Then the cows. All the clucking, baaing, and mooing is driving the farmer up the wall, and he asks the rabbi what he should do now. The rabbi tells him to send all of the animals out of his house, and as soon as he does, peace reigns in his home, and the noise of his family doesn’t seem so bad after all. The message is about perspective: we can control how we react to the challenges the world presents.

Emily’s House is a retelling of the classic folk tale, beginning with a little girl (named Emily, of course), whose peace in her little brick house is disturbed by a creaking door and a squeaking mouse. The mouse sends her out to get first a cat, then a dog, then a sheep, and so on, until her house is filled with a cacaphony of bleating, cooing, barking animals. At last the mouse sends the animals away in a parade across the hills, “[a]nd the door went creak / And the mouse went squeak / And Emily listened, and Emily smiled! / And she sighed the sigh of a happy child. / ‘Cause all she heard in her little brick house / Was a small sort of creak and the squeak of a mouse.” With winsome illustrations and melodic rhymes, as well as that magical children’s book hallmark, repetition, Emily’s House will win the hearts of young readers (not only mine, who happens to be named Emily).

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