What will young readers encounter in the peaceful landscape of this picture book?
Lush, full-bleed double-page spreads in a predominantly blue, green, and brown palette, executed in a soft mix of media that includes acrylics, colored pencils, and collage, accompany simple poetic text with an abcb rhyme scheme. The words are quiet, meant to convey safety and security. Many of the titular “home builders” appear in the first spread: Tortoises inch along a path, red foxes peek out from hiding, a deer grazes in the background, beavers cavort in the water, a great horned owl snoozes in a tree. The rest—moles, honeybees, and eagles—arrive after the page turn. Bajaj structures her book with questions. “Do you see the homes?” The answer is simple: “Beds in leaf piles, / Dens snug and warm, // Lodges on ponds, / Shelter from storms. // Burrows with rooms, / Beehives and nests, / Each of these homes / Soon will be blessed.” (Some may wonder at the word “blessed,” but it seems to owe its use more to the rhyme scheme than underlying religiosity.) Babies arrive and, satisfyingly, learn to “work and play.” Throughout, Mulazzani prioritizes intimacy over accurate scale or reproduction of animal architecture, offering lovely but sometimes confusing compositions.
Whether children are listening in a group or as individuals at home, they will enjoy this book, but the science learning is limited. (Picture book. 3-6)