Put on the kettle, make the tea, set out some biscuits and curl up in front of a nice fire. That's exactly what Cynthia Rylant's newest picture book, Let's Go Home: The Wonderful Things About a House, encourages readers to do.
The opening pages highlight different types of houses, from trailers to cottages to apartment buildings to chateaux. Then Rylant takes her audience on a tour of an unforgettable house presumably her own. The tour starts at the glorious front porch, where flowers bloom in the summer, green and red lights twinkle in December and visitors are welcomed year round. And from there, the reader is welcomed through the front door, going on to explore every room in the house even the attic.
Warm and nostalgic, brimming with children's drawings, dogs, overstuffed furniture and neighbors, the house is full of all the things that are part of a place people love. There is not a housekeeper in sight, and no one minds the splendid hubbub of each comfortable room. Halperin's signature muted watercolor illustrations infuse each space with joy. She paints a world where everyone is secure and cared for a place everyone would love to live, or at least visit.
Halperin's art often consists of small boxes with scenes of everyday life. Occasionally, she paints a generous full-page spread, but even these large paintings are alive with tiny details. Are those really grapes trailing around the headboard of the little girl's bed? Are those teeny mobiles of birds on each page? Why is there a goose in the bathroom? Each picture, filled with minutiae, invites repeat inspection.
Rylant's words and Halperin's illustrations have worked together many times before, but the marriage is especially successful here. Children will pore over the pictures, and everyone will appreciate this celebration of the simple pleasures of home. A perfect housewarming gift.