Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Joan Aiken & illustrated by Bee Willey

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-224-06480-0
Publisher: Jonathan Cape/Trafalgar

An odd little posthumous tale from Aiken (see above). A brother and sister, Handle and Window, live in a house in a hollow, surrounded by trees. When the leaves fall in autumn, they bury the house up to its bedroom windows. But Handle sweeps them up and makes a big bonfire. Window cannot help him, as she is lame, but she tells stories to him and to the townsfolk who come to listen, “and often they were cured of their sickness or their sadness or their worry.” But Handle is a sailor, and must go to sea, leaving a little carved wooden dragon for his sister. Window obsesses over the leaves that will fall the next autumn—what if Handle isn’t home by then? And sure enough, the house is buried under leaves the next year. The terrified Window dreams that the forgotten wooden dragon will save her. She awakens, dusts him off, and discovers he loves to eat—leaves! The colors are luminous and the figures ethereal in Willey’s double-paged full-bleed images, although the dragon doesn’t seem quite like the text description. The whole has the feeling of references so intimate that they don’t entirely cohere for an outside audience, but children may be seduced by the radiant color and quirky characterizations. (Picture book. 6-9)