February 8, 2020

Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 3:33 am by suebe2

Home in the Woods 
by Eliza Wheeler
Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Putnam

Marvel’s dad lives with the angels now and her family needs to find a new home.  They head into the woods in search of someplace to call their own.  When they find a tarpaper shack, Marvel is unimpressed.  “‘You never know what treasures we’ll find,’ says Mum.”

It is summer when 6 year-old Marvel, her mum, and her seven siblings find the shack.  Mum isn’t entirely wrong.  The shack may be only one room but in the cellar below there is a pump that brings up cool, clear water.  They plant a garden and gather berries.  Using the cook stove, Mum cans and they begin to put up food for the winter.  Mum works and earns a few coins which they use on necessities.  Otherwise, their garden and the forest provide what they need.

This story is set in the Great Depression.  Wheeler based it on events from her grandmother’s life in Wisconsin.  Wheeler’s water color, ink and pastel pencil illustrations give the story an old time feel.  Personally, it reminded me of the Box Car Children although this family was much larger and included mom.  Still, the two stories are comparable in that the characters learn to make do with what they can find and it is a loving, family story.

The illustrations are detailed and help pull the reader into the story.  Several illustrations are labeled, including the first interior of the shack and a holiday meal, helping to clarify new settings and information for young reader.

While the story itself would be compelling for story time, the illustrations need to be viewed closely and savored.  There is so much to them that the reader could easily get lost in the art work alone.

Wheeler has created a touching story that will inform even as it touches the heart.

–SueBE

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