April 29, 2013

The House on Dirty-Third Street by Jo S. Kittinger, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:42 am by suebe2

The House on Dirty-Third Street
by Jo S. Kittinger,
illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
Peachtree Publishers
AR 3.2

Our narrator buys into Mom’s little adventure until she sees their new home.  It’s small and it’s dirty and the yard is a mess.  This isn’t what she has in mind at all even if it’s all they can afford.

As they clean and scrape and rake, Mom tries to share her enthusiasm but soon she two is wondering if this was a big mistake.  Even the neighbors are grim in spite of Mom’s attempts at friendliness.

“Remind me,” says the narrator.  “How did you see it?”

And only then does the reader get a glimpse at Mom’s dream, a dream that now seems impossible, of a small house with blue shutters, sparkling windows, flowers on the porch and cookies in the oven.  In the midst of all the hard work, it seems unreachable.

The next morning our narrator asks for prayers and that’s when the miracles start to happen.

This is more than a “feel-good” book.  It is exactly the kind of book that people need today when so much seems dark and grim and negative.  This is a story about faith and being a good neighbor.  It  is a story about good deeds adding up and changing people’s lives.

You don’t find many picture books written with first person narrator’s and they can be a bother to review.  Instead of calling our main character by name, I have to call her “the narrator,” which seems so impersonal.   But this is a very personal story and the first person narrator makes it all the more real.

Thomas Gonzalez compliments the story with his illustrations created in pastels, colored pencil and airbrush.  Early in the story, before the young narrator can “see” the dream, the illustrations are mainly black and white with just a touch of pale color.  As the story progresses, Gonzalez adds more and more color, blending it gently put powerfully until we are treated to the effects of a sunset-backed dream home.

This would be an excellent read aloud for Sunday school or youth group or even your own family.  Share this story of hope and community with the young reader in your life.

–SueBE

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