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A HOME NAMED WALTER by Chelsea Lin Wallace


by Chelsea Lin Wallace ; illustrated by Ginnie Hsu

Pub Date: April 19th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-250-31641-7
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Wallace explores the notion of home by personifying a house who loses one family and slowly accepts another.

When his beloved first family leaves, “Walter’s feelings were hurt.” He grimly relishes his browning lawn, rusting pipes, and sagging floors. When a brown-skinned girl and her lighter-skinned mother move in, Walter feels cramped and resentful. Little Girl feels unsettled, too, though she’s reassured by her capable mom. Wallace endows Walter with poltergeistlike responses to the new family’s intrusion: He slams shutters, hobbles the oven, and sabotages the fireplace. He observes Little Girl sniffling while addressing her father, holding his picture: “I miss you, Papa. You’d like our new house. He’s funny, like you.” Walter’s emotional response yields broken pipes as his “tears” flow through the house. Mama handles this latest setback with buckets and aplomb, asking her daughter to bring towels. When Little Girl discovers a photo of the former family, she realizes why the house is sad. “I know what it’s like to have someone move away. But it doesn’t mean you’re alone.” Her matter-of-fact empathy affects Walter: he feels understood and “livable” once more. Hsu conveys Walter’s emotions through dot-and-dash facial features that appear on the roof or walls. Her bright, detailed pictures elevate a potentially maudlin premise, and the project succeeds by spotlighting the growing emotional intelligence of Little Girl and Walter. Both former and current families present as multiracial. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

In this cozy home, open hearts prevail.

(Picture book. 3-7)