A derelict house on top of a hill beckons two young children.
Two children, possibly siblings, approach the waiting house on a winding, weed-covered path, all the while wondering about its past and those who dwelled within its walls. An empty window invites them to climb in. The tale is not told by the children but by an unseen narrator who seems to speak directly to the readers watching these events from outside the pages. The explorers find all sorts of items that were left behind, while the narrator asks, “Who looked in this mirror?” “Who napped in this chair?” “Who was this someone…who’s gone but is still everywhere?” The language is direct, appealing equally to ear, eye, and mind. Intricate double-page spreads allow readers to follow the children as they explore and imagine and then return to their own cozy home. Smith’s illustrations neatly separate action from imagination. The children and present-day house are depicted with blotted-line India ink, appearing a bit faded and mysterious (the children’s skin takes on the color of the paper beneath). Their imagined house dwellers’ activities are painted in bright, light-filled oils with paper collage; the soft edges of these reveal narrow white backgrounds, effectively separating them from now. It is all perfectly seamless; words and art are interwoven in a dance that enchants.
Inventive and lovely. (Picture book. 5-9)