Saturday, May 25, 2019

Review - A Very Special House

A Very Special House
by Ruth Krauss
illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Date: 1953
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: Open Library

The very special house is where you can do everything you want to, and nobody ever says 'stop, stop, stop.'

(synopsis from Goodreads)

"Frenetic" and "obnoxious" are the main two words I can think of to describe this book. It doesn't help that I've got an earworm from the verse. I don't recall my mom ever reading this book to me and my sister (heck, it's old enough that maybe someone read it to my mom!) but I'm kind of glad it wasn't a part of my childhood. I have a feeling my mom would be glad, too!

Some people seem to think that Ruth Krauss remembers and captures childhood quite well. Maybe if your childhood included ADHD! There's nothing to really focus on here. The narrative jumps from place to place in a way that's going to be exhausting for the adults who have to read the book aloud. And, let's face it, any kid who carries around a dead mouse in a box... well, that's just not right. I don't think I'd want to normalize that sort of behaviour.

The illustrations are really nothing special. I'm afraid I've yet to see what all the Maurice Sendak hype is about. Maybe he was a big deal back in his day, but there are so many amazing children's book illustrators out there now. Just because something's old doesn't necessarily mean it's awesome; if I'm comparing his work to what I see coming out today, it's mediocre, at best.

I'm still strangely intrigued by Ruth Krauss after reading this and Everything Under a Mushroom. Was the woman smoking something? Was she mentally ill? I don't know. But her books are kind of like a train wreck that I just can't look away from. While they might not capture childhood (at least, not the way I remember it), they're a fascinating look into a very different sort of mind.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: 2/5
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2.43 out of 5

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