Saturday, July 6, 2019

Review - The House at the End of the Road

The House at the End of the Road
by Kari Rust
Date: 2019
Publisher: Owlkids
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 42
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

One summer, while exploring the town during their annual stay at Grandma’s house, two siblings and their cousin come across a creepy old house. The kids poke around, one of them causing mischief and tossing rocks at the window, until they glimpse a ghost through the glass! Later, Grandma reveals the house doesn’t belong to a ghost―just old Mr. Peterson.

After visiting again with better intentions, the kids discover Mr. Peterson’s great sense of humor and that his house is full of fascinating things: old toys, photographs, even a film projector. They become regular visitors, until one day, Mr. Peterson is gone: he has left for a retirement home, and his house sits empty. Using odds, ends, and gifts he gave them, the kids create mementos of Mr. Peterson’s home to give back to him.

Full of heart, this picture book incorporates graphic novel elements to tell a layered and moving story about an intergenerational friendship. It shows how appearances can be deceiving: sometimes the best adventure awaits where you least expect it.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book is sort of a picture-book/graphic-novel hybrid. It tells the story of three cousins who discover what they think is a haunted house. But it turns out that the place is inhabited by Mr. Peterson, who's collected all kinds of cool stuff over the years. The children spend lots of time there, until one day they turn up to find Mr. Peterson gone. So they make some mementos for him and ask their grandmother to deliver them.

I don't really have a problem with the story, but the synopsis makes it sound more innocuous than it might be. Mr. Peterson "has left for a retirement home" sounds like a voluntary thing... when, in actuality, it appears he was forced to move. I recently read an article about senior guardianship that was downright terrifying; basically, a stranger can declare themselves an elderly person's guardian, and they lose all their rights and assets. I can't help but wonder if that's what happened to poor Mr. Peterson, as it certainly seems like he was forced out against his will.

The illustrations are kind of cute, and I like how the book is put together. This could be a good introduction to graphic novels for kids, since the format is (mostly) in that style.

The ending is a bit abrupt, but I really don't know what else I was expecting. Mr. Peterson to fight back against the forced guardianship? The old guy sneaking out of the retirement home to go back and live in his old house? I'm not sure. I just find it quite sad that, although he has friends, he doesn't seem to have any advocates. He lost his home and all his possessions, and it was up to three kids to try to give him back some mementos. That says something about dysfunction in our society, but it's nothing good.

Thank you to NetGalley and Owlkids for providing a digital ARC.

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

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.17 out of 5

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