Monday, November 12, 2018

Review - A Boy and a House

A Boy and a House
by Maja Kastelic
Date: 2018
Publisher: Annick Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

What will the little boy find at the top of the stairs?

When a little boy sees a cat slip into the open door of an apartment building, the temptation is too great: he follows the cat into the lobby. Before continuing up the stairway, the boy picks up one of several discarded drawings that litter the floor.

Another open door awaits. Again, the boy follows the cat, this time into an apartment filled with books and toys. No one is there, but a table set for tea testifies to the fact that someone has been there recently. More drawings are scattered throughout, which the boy picks up one by one. With his pile of sketches in hand, he continues up several more staircases until he reaches an attic where a wonderful surprise awaits him.

The stunning illustrations in this wordless book invite the reader into a mysterious world that evokes the beauty of the past. Drawn by the light radiating from every open doorway, the boy lets his curiosity take him on an amazing journey of discovery, which young readers can elaborate with their own versions of the story.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Sometimes a book is so good and yet so uncomfortable at the same time that it's really difficult to rate. A Boy and a House is an aesthetically pleasing wordless picture book that made me intensely uncomfortable, even while I appreciated the artwork. Why? Because the dingy colour palette, combined with the subject matter, made me really fear for the child. This appears to be a European title, and I get the feeling that Europeans aren't quite as worried about child luring and abductions as North Americans are. The little boy following a trail of mysterious drawings into the bowels of a house--unaccompanied, and at night, no less--felt uncomfortably like he was being lured to me. (Yes, the explanation and ending are innocent enough, but that doesn't erase the discomfort I felt the whole time I was "reading" this.)

The illustrations are cute, and there's plenty to look at in every picture (including some unexpected surprises). Perhaps if the setting had been more fantasy-like and less real-world urban, I wouldn't have had such a visceral reaction to the thought of a tiny boy trespassing in a nearly abandoned building all by himself.

Quotable moment:

Thank you to NetGalley and Annick Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: n/a
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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