The Great Blue House

Author:  Kate Banks
Illustrator:   Georg Hallensleben

518i0sdjzNLBanks and Hallensleben offer another winning title in this deceptively quiet story about a well-loved vacation house.  [Kate Banks was the author of another Fireflies’ pick – Max’s Words.]

In summer, the rooms burst with life–the crickets sing, laundry floats on the line, and children’s voices rise “like dandelion puff.” Then fall comes, the people leave, and the empty house is quiet. “Or is it?”

Banks’ describes the house’s secret life through fall, winter, and spring: the faucet drips, snow falls, a bird builds a nest, a cat roams and sleeps. At last, another summer arrives, and new kittens and birds share the house with the returned family. In spare, poetic sentences, Banks’ precise sounds and cyclical rhythms amplify the hypnotic sensory impressions, which Banks invites listeners to imagine: “The cat stretches out across the bed and settles into a secret dream. Listen to her purring.”



Another artist might have chosen subdued grays and purples to depict a house shuttered for winter, but Hallensleben’s beautiful, thickly brushed, impressionistic paintings evoke a sense of noise and life in rooms painted shocking blue and rich, bright red. Scenes of rooms glimpsed through half-open doors and of quiet corners extend the words’ message that many of life’s exciting stories lie in small moments and partial glimpses. A beautifully crafted story filled with wonder.  Booklist Review