BooksForKidsBlog

Saturday, August 07, 2021

Where the Heart Is: The House of Grass and Sky by Mary Lyn Ray


Once, out in the country, someone knew right where to build a house.

Inside it smelled of sunshine and new lumber. Outside it smelled of meadow grass and sky.

In a field of tall, waving grass there is a house, sturdy and plain, that shelters a family. In the grass a mother in a long white dress walks, with a black and white dog leading the way, while the father waves from the roof where he is repairing the chimney. Soon there are children, a girl with bare feet in a rope swing and a boy running with the dog. It is a a safe place to live and grow.

As years went by, other families came and went.

The house learned about babies growing up and birthday parties.

But one day the family loaded up the dog to drive away. They didn't come back. But other families with children came to swing in the swing and run through the grass. After a time, the families would drive away to stay.

A new family always came--until one didn't.

The house stood empty. It missed the children running through the house, laughing or whispering secrets. Seasons came and went. But...

. . . It knew a family would come.

But they didn't. The little white house sat empty, waiting. From time to time families would come to look and talk about how they would have to "add on" more rooms on the little house or how it was "too quiet" out there in its field of grass. Nobody came to stay. The house didn't want to be added on to!

And then one family with children drives up. They pick the dandelions in the field and find the swing and run whispering through the rooms.

Are they wishing what the house is wishing?

The heart of the house is the family who lives there, says noted author Mary Lyn Ray's just published The House of Grass and Sky (Candlewick Press, 2021). Ray's lovely new picture book, reminiscent of the spirit of Virginia Lee Burton's classic, Caldecott Award winner, The Little House 75th Anniversary Edition, celebrates how those lives are what makes a house a home. The lovely mixed media illustrations of artist E. B. Goodale evokes what a house means to a family who lives there, and also, what the family within means for a house.

Horn Book's reviewer says, "Ray’s quiet, eloquent text serves as a poignant meditation on appreciation: of the things we take for granted, the things we value most, and the things we cannot live without."

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