- The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl
Wahl, Phoebe The Blue House; written and illus. by Phoebe Wahl. Knopf, 2020 [40p] Library ed. ISBN 9781984893376 $20.99 Trade ed. ISBN 9781984893369 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781984893383 $10.99 Reviewed from digital galleys R 4-6 yrs
"Leo lived with his dad in an old blue house next to a tall fir tree." It's a creaky old house but it's still a beloved home, so Leo and his father are unhappy when the house is sold in order to be torn down for new construction. They move to a new house but it's not the same ("'I hate it,' said Leo. 'That's okay,' said his dad"); eventually, though, their familiar life makes the little white house home, and their beloved blue house still lives on in their memories. While moving stories are rife in picturebookland, the not-uncommon experience of losing a home to neighborhood improvements is rarely featured, and Leo and his dad are a believable small family in an area that's a credible mix of shaggy old houses and doubtless more profitable apartments. The mixed-media art gets a little darkly saturated in some scenes, but the vigorous and naïve draftsmanship of the figures is cozy in long-haired Leo and his scruffy rocker dad; there's a realism to the neighborhood and the imperfect, well-loved interiors that's a refreshing change from more touristy visions of housing. This is a pragmatic alternative to Virginia Lee Burton's The Little House, and kids will be glad to see that Leo and his dad negotiate their changing neighborhood. Make sure audiences get a look at opening and closing endpapers to see where Leo's move took him.