This German import unfolds in dreamlike double-page spreads.
In place of a linear narrative are pairs of words, one per spread, that express a dichotomy: “Order—Disorder,” “Noise—Stillness,” “Boy—Girl.” The sequence of surreal, graphite drawings begins with “One—Many.” A pack of mice races toward a hole in a low wall labeled “Cheese.” The front-runner wears the numeral “1.” What the creatures can’t see is the watchful cat following the sprint from behind the structure. Those looking closely will soon understand that the caption has multiple interpretations. A tail and hindquarters are visible running around the wall’s side; it is this “one” that appears in every subsequent scene. There is much to consider in these spacious, monochromatic pictures: the face of a lovely woman sleeping at the edge of a forest, elaborate domed structures against a starry sky, an ocean of fish blowing—or perhaps consuming—thought bubbles, and houses soaring in the sky, like kites—attached to strings. This titular image is especially provocative. Do houses yearn to go home? Where are they from? Do they transport their inhabitants? The final composition depicts trees on slender trunks, bent forward in the wind, ever-so-slightly reminiscent of the running rodents (although this image does not convey closure). Children could invent a continuous narrative, individual tales, or new stories upon rereadings.
Whether readers find this book unsettling or intriguing will likely depend on the child. It certainly offers fertile ground for imaginative conversation. (Picture book. 5-9)