Title: Home in the Woods
Author & Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler
Publisher: Nancy Paulson Books, 2019
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