Originally published by Polish poet and avant-garde filmmaker Themerson in 1938 and illustrated with charming line drawings by his wife Franciszka, this miniature hardback book in six chapters tells the story of Mr. Rouse’s unusual house-building challenges.
The little man has to explain with difficulty to the architect that not any old house will do: “I’m not a bird, you know; how could I live in a house made of leaves?” Neither a pagoda nor a skyscraper meets his needs, nor a block of flats, where “The houses are choking!” Finally Mr. Builder gets it. He rings up Mr. Rouse on the telephone to tell him the plans are done, and he will start building right away. After a challenging journey across country via bus, horse-drawn cab, train and plane, Mr. Rouse finally is able to inspect his new abode. He loves the house, but basic services are missing, and he has to work hard to get running water and electricity hooked up and a clock installed. In a style reminiscent of poems by Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, typography is used humorously to illustrate Rouse’s eccentric antics.
Fascinatingly anachronistic and a tad long-winded, this book is an eccentric curiosity that will have both kids and adults puzzling over its arcane Briticisms and enjoying its Python-esque wackiness. (Picture book. 4-8)