Home in the Woods – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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Title: Home in the Woods

Author & Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler

Publisher: Nancy Paulson Books, 2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: poverty, Great Depression, family, home, fortitude



This picture book from Eliza Wheeler is based on her grandmother’s childhood and pays homage to a family’s fortitude as they discover the meaning of home.

Eliza Wheeler’s book tells the story of what happens when six-year-old Marvel, her seven siblings, and their mom must start all over again after their father has died. Deep in the woods of Wisconsin they find a tar-paper shack. It doesn’t seem like much of a home, but they soon start seeing what it could be. During their first year it’s a struggle to maintain the shack and make sure they have enough to eat. But each season also brings its own delights and blessings–and the children always find a way to have fun. Most importantly, the family finds immense joy in being together, surrounded by nature. And slowly, their little shack starts feeling like a true home–warm, bright, and filled up with love.

Why I like this book:

A Depression era story based on the true lives of the author’s Grandma, her mother and siblings, that is overflowing with true hardship and heart. It is completely enchanting with a message of optimism that filles every double paged spread from berry canning, to wood chopping, woodland animals and making a home from whatever you find. The language is sublime and the illustrations poignant with perfect tonal choice for the seasons and moods.

‘’Snow falls in a blanket of diamonds all around the shack. The jack pines sway above as we fall asleep close together. But Mum stays awake into the night, whispering to the stars…’’

The main character, a young child (and the author’s grandma), grows through the pages – feeling empty and down at the beginning after the loss of her father and move to such simple living conditions in the wood shack, to a place of wonder and fulfillment at the end. The way this entire family fights for their livelihood and sees the best in their situation is inspirational. This is a must read for all!


This pairs perfectly with a book I reviewed two weeks ago, RUBY’S HOPE

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website

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15 Responses to Home in the Woods – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Joanna, I’ve always been drawn to stories of life in those “way-back-when days,” and this book sounds like one I’m going to want to enjoy with a hot cup of tea. The lines you included from this book are truly beautiful. Eliza Wheeler’s word choices evoke strong lovely images.

  2. Such a beautifully rendered book!

  3. Sarah Tobias says:

    What a lovely post. Eliza’s illustrations are so beautiful. I look forward to reading this story.

  4. Joanna, I love the way you presented the opening. And I agree that this would work well with RUBY’S HOPE (one of my favorites from last year). It’s on hold and I can’t wait to read it. Thanks!

  5. I’ve read this book. It’s an amazing story (in both the sense that it’s based on reality and in the way it is presented here), and yes, a good pairing with Ruby’s Hope, another book I’ve just read. Great choice!

  6. What a treasure to find a story about the depression era based on a true story. One of my favorite kind of stories. That cover really is goregous and will draw readers to it. I like that it is a PB.

  7. This looks really lovely – love the illustrations!

  8. Patricia Nozell says:

    I haven’t seen this one yet, but I’ve requested it from the library. Thanks for the recommendation & great review. I love that this story is based on a true experience and covers such an important topic.

  9. “Completely enchanting.” You’re so right Joanna! I adore this book. So glad you’re spreading the word!

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