Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A House in the Woods

A House in the Woods by Inga Moore (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 16.95
ISBN 9781406342819
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

As a devoted fan of Inga Moore’s work, I am delighted with this new book. It begins with two pigs, two houses in the woods, and a spread of two full-page illustrations that depict golden leaves scattered and still falling from giant trees.

Two pigs go for a walk and return to find that a bear has moved into the first pig’s den, and a moose into the other pig’s hut. Both houses are destroyed. Now four animals have nowhere to live. Moose comes up with a great idea – to build a house big enough for them to live in together.

They call in the Beaver Builders, who agree to the project only if they are paid with peanut butter sandwiches. The illustrations here are divine. They show the industrious beavers arriving in their trucks loaded with logs, wearing huge smiles and hard hats.

Another double spread shows the beavers felling trees using their sharp teeth, within a great forest of various green hues and muted light.

Building begins and everyone works together to get the house finished quickly. The detail is extraordinary. The cement mixer is turning. Moose works on a log. Some beavers cart rocks in a wheelbarrow, while the pigs cut away small branches from logs using their axes.

It’s all team work. The walls are up then the roof is on. The house takes shape. Moose and Bear go with the pigs to the junkyard to find furniture. (Recycling is always the best option.) Finally the house is finished. The shopping is complete and the peanut butter sandwiches change hands. A beautiful new house awaits the friends. The fire crackles in the hearth. Beds beckon.

Moore’s detailed artistry encompasses the natural world which is alive and vibrant in all her work. The forest, the trees, branches and leaves create a calm that matches the harmonious unity of the animals. The beaver’s lodge at the lake sits amidst breathtaking scenery. There is so much for children to discover on each carefully considered page which is created around themes of friendship, team work, and the natural world.

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