Saturday, August 28, 2010

Where the Heart Is: Home by Alex T. Smith

Once there was a house...

...a house that was a home. And in the house lived four best friends.

They were called One, Two, Three, and Four.
They lived happily ever after until....

...until, well, ennui sets in as it does in the happiest of households. The four friends find their lives cozy but not altogether...fulfilling. One decides that they should broaden their experiences by becoming pirates. Two opts for climbing mountains and learning to yodel; Three nixes yodeling and suggests that they all live in a deep cave, collecting the flora and fauna to be found there. Four has an altogether different agenda:

"We should move to the big city and go to parties and boogie-woogie all night long!"

Obviously there is no way to compromise on such diverse dreams! Finally the dissension rises to such a peak that the four friends decide to divide their mutual shares in their former home and part company to pursue their own bliss.

One takes the door and with the addition of a mast with a Jolly Roger, begins to sail the seven seas. Two takes the walls and stomps off up the nearest mountain to begin her vocal exercises; Three scurries off with the windows and wends his way to the deepest cave he can find to collect bugs; and Four takes the floor and two-steps off to the city to boogie all night. The four become their own best friends and begin to follow their dreams happily.

But in the best tradition of picture book friendships, they soon discover that their new lives, while exciting, lack something that they also need just as much. Finally, they return to the site of their former dwelling to reconstruct their home and their friendship under new arrangements. Their cozy house is restored with just one new feature--wheels--so that the four friends can share their new interests and the coziness of home at the same time!

"Now we can go everywhere together," they said.

And they did.

Alex T. Smith's latest Home (Tiger Tales, 2010) is a light-hearted look at a heavy issue in friendship and love, how to be an individual and yet part of a happy relationship with others. Smith's charming and quirky illustrations give this little parable zest and kid appeal. Young readers may not be able to verbalize the life lesson here, but like their elders, they will sense it in this sweet little story which shows that sometimes you can go home again.

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