Little Houses by Kevin Henkes,  illustrated by Laura Dronzek

Little Houses by Kevin Henkes,  illustrated by Laura Dronzek. Greenwillow Books, HarperCollins, 2022. 9780062965721

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  In this dreamy and gentle story, a little girl walks the beach with her grandmother, looking at seashells and wondering who lives in each one. She imagines all the creatures who live under the water, hidden from view. How far has each shell traveled? How old are the stones? How deep is the ocean and how can it be so many colors at the same time? Her philosophical musings end as she places a shell on a shelf in her room, thinking about the nature of home. Henkes’s perfectly captures the meandering yet profound discussions that take place while beachcombing, especially if there’s a handy and loving elder nearby to facilitate that conversation. Dronzek’s illustrations, done with acrylic paint, are a wonderful complement to the text. Pronounced black outlines surround each person, shell, and bird in a way that recalls a child’s drawing but with far more sophistication and texture. The playful switching between full page bleeds, vignettes, and even tiny pictures worked into the text made every page a delight. Children who have been to the beach will enjoy seeing familiar shells and birds and those that are fascinated with life under the waves will enjoy the peak beneath. The little girl in the story has light brown skin with black hair in a messy ponytail, and we see her on the beach with a child who is Black and a younger child who is White.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  A great read aloud for a beach-themed story time. With its big questions about home, the passage of time, and the celebration of solitary pursuits, this would be a wonderful book to share with any thoughtful young reader. It would pair nicely with the classic A House Is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: June 28, 2022

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, *Starred Review, Grandparents, Kevin Henkes, Laura Dronzek, Oceans, Seashells and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.