When a little girl opens her house to “lost creatures,” chaos reigns until she sets rules for harmonious coexistence.
Julia and her house arrive by tortoiseback to the seashore, where she decides it’s too quiet and makes a sign advertising “Julia’s House for Lost Creatures.” She’s quickly inundated with “lost and homeless creatures” asking for towels and soap, tea and toast. The creatures soon take over, spilling things, neglecting to clean up and playing loud music. Distraught, Julia orders everyone to “STOP!” and makes another sign dividing chores among her new housemates. With order restored, all is well until the house makes disturbing noises, prompting resourceful Julia to create a final sign recruiting a handyman. Judicious placement of the spare text and enlarged, attention-getting onomatopoetic words like “whoosh,” “scritch scratch,” “boom” and “creak” add drama, while fanciful pen, ink and watercolor illustrations create a whimsical world of cartoonlike creatures. Julia’s all practicality in her kerchief, apron and pink high-top sneakers, while her ramshackle house atop the giant tortoise is the picture of cozy comfort until the invading troll, dragon, mermaid and companions trigger a rumpus reminiscent of Sendak’s Wild Things. Hatke steps from graphic novels (Zita the Spacegirl) to the picture-book format with aplomb, blending tropes from both worlds for a sweetly weird domestic adventure.
Readers will want to move right in. (Picture book. 4-7)