THE AUNT IN OUR HOUSE by Angela Johnson


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A restrained, somewhat sorrowful work from two frequent collaborators (The Leaving Morning, 1992, etc.). A brother narrates the changes he and his younger sister observe in their biracial household when their aunt--their father's sister--comes to stay. The text is spare: ""She brought a fish in a bowl/and a chair that she sat under a tree./She said that we were hers now./The Aunt was ours too./So we watched the Aunt in our house."" There is an undertone of abiding sadness here: ""But sometimes/The Aunt in our house/is quiet/and looks out the window all day."" In some ways, the art outshines the text. The paintings, a happy marriage of pastel and watercolor, are immediate and exquisitely rendered. They provide the first clues that all is not well with the aunt; the two children are always engaging, anchoring all that is left unsaid to real people. Readers never know why the aunt has come to stay, but they will certainly understand that the family's life is enhanced by her presence in this subtle and affecting work.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1996
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Orchard