Softly, poetically, an unseen narrator explores a house and what it is made of.
A small wooden door with a red doorknob sits in the middle of white space. “This door was once a colossal oak tree / about three hugs around / and as high as the blue.” Next, on a full-bleed double-page spread, the door appears as part of its original oak, which sits in purple grasses, reaching through clouds to the sky. Bricks—made from mud—appear around the door, and the next spread takes readers to a large, tempting mud puddle, a turtle happily a-wallow, a frog at play, a kitten dipping paws in. “This roof was once rock, / carved and cleft // and shingled to shelter // from gray wet”—a humble, elegant sheet of slates hovers above the in-process house (which still sits in white space), and on the following spread, downy mists of pale indigo-pink highlight the small turtle, frog, kitten, and bird outdoors in the “gray wet.” Using pencil (both gray and colored), watercolor, and pastel—all with a supreme delicacy—Freedman builds this house until, behind swirls and flurries of an opaque snowstorm, a light-skinned child inside the house welcomes the kitten in. The arc emphasizes shelter but also human use of nature, so the feelings of warmth, safety, and coziness hold the faintest tinge of melancholy and loss.
Tender, comforting, and complex. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-8)