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The House Hardcover – September 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Series: Creative Editions
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Creative Editions; First Edition edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568462018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568462011
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.5 x 12.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4 Up—The walls in a stone farmhouse literally talk in this first-person narrative that deals with the ravages of time and their effects on the structure and its inhabitants. After a brief history, the house (constructed in 1656, "a plague year") fast forwards to the dawn of the 20th century, when children discover its ruins. The quatrains, one to a spread, alternate between an AABB and ABBA rhyme scheme, thus avoiding singsong predictability. The formal tone, sophisticated vocabulary, and preoccupation with life's inevitable losses register the sensibility of an older and somewhat melancholy speaker: "From wife to widow…and the depths of grief./My furnace burns as children leave for school,/Bundled in virtue, books, and classroom fuel./How beautiful their innocence, how brief." Adults will connect to the sentiments, while children will pore over Innocenti's marvelously detailed spreads, composed in an oversize, vertical format and set in an Italian hill town. Readers see a family rebuild, move in, celebrate marriage and childbirth, and mourn their dead. Winnowing, grape harvesting, military and refugee occupation, and hippies picnicking on the terraced hills of the once again crumbling property are among the activities captured in the watercolors. The viewer's perspective is fixed, but the light, weather conditions, and human interventions create fresh worlds on each page. Innocenti's whimsy surfaces in the 1999 do over. In the subset of books dealing intelligently with the effects of time on a single location, this is a provocative choice.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A stone house on a hill is the narrator and forms the keystone for this picture book for older-readers. Spanning the twentieth century, Lewis’ verses, and more vitally, Innocenti’s artwork, show the transformation of the old house in an unspecified (but likely Italian) countryside. The tableau for the artwork remains the same throughout: the house and terraced hillside occupy a static position on the pages but grow and morph with each step, providing distinct snapshots to distill different eras and passing generations. The unfolding of small dramas will have children eagerly flipping the pages back and forth in time: a wispy tree planted in 1905 grows majestically to preside over a wedding in 1915, is naught but a stump by 1993, and is replaced by a pool in 1999. The poetry, though skillful, can be obscure for the intended audience (“By spring’s pastoral play, the hill, beguiled, / Returns a natural likeness”), but the fascinating and immersive imagery goes to great length to bring it to life. A stately book that will reward many repeat visits. Grades 4-7. --Ian Chipman

More About the Author

After nearly three decades as a professor of economics, J. Patrick Lewis turned to poetry. He is the author of more than 75 children's books including A Hippopotamusn't (1990), BoshBlobberBosh (1998), Please Bury Me in the Library (2004), First Dog (2009), Spot the Plot (2009), and The House (2009).

He has recently been named the third U.S. Children's Poet Laureate (2011-2013) by the Poetry Foundation.

His books have been published by Creative Editions, Knopf, Atheneum, Dial, Harcourt, Little, Brown, National Geographic, Chronicle Books, Scholastic, Candlewick, Schwartz & Wade, Holiday House, Sleeping Bear Press, Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, Dawn Publications, and others. Gulls Hold Up the Sky, his first book of adult poems, was published by Laughing Fire Press (2010).

Pat's children's poems have also appeared in CRICKET (26 times), SPIDER, LADYBUG, CICADA, ODYSSEY, RANGER RICK, HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN, Ms. Magazine, YOUR BIG BACKYARD, CREATIVE CLASSROOM, STORYTIME, STORYWORKS, CHICKADEE, AHOY, LANGUAGE ARTS, JOURNAL OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, BOOKBIRD, READING TODAY and over 100 anthologies. He wrote the 1992 National Children's Book Week poem, printed on one million bookmarks and distributed nationally.

Lewis has received numerous awards from the American Library Association, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and others. He was the recipient of the 2010-11 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Children's Poetry Award, presented every two years.

WHERE I'LL BE NEXT--Schools, Bookstores, Conferences

October 14-16, 2011 Poetry Foundation--TED Lecture Chicago, Illiniois
October 23-25, 2011 NY State Reading Assn. Rye Brook, New York
October 28-31, 2011 Keystone State Reading Assn. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
November 5, 2011 Buckeye Book Fair Wooster, Ohio
November 8, 2011 Ashland University Ashland, Ohio
November 15-16, 2011 St. Joseph's College Rensselaer, Indiana
November 17-20, 2011 NCTE Convention Chicago, Illinois
December 1, 2010 Hillview Elementary Newark, Ohio
December 8, 2011 West Chester University (Dan Darigan) West Chester, PA
January 18, 2012 Richard Avenue Elementary Grove City, Ohio
January 24, 2012 Fouse Elementary Westerville, Ohio
March 1-3, 2012 Charlotte Huck Ch. Lit. Conference Redlands, California
April 3-5, 2012 Holland Hall Primary Tulsa, Oklahoma
April 12, 2012 Washington-Centerville Public Library Centerville, Ohio
April 13, 2012 Stingley Elementary Centerville, Ohio
April 17-25, 2012 Anglo-American School Moscow, Russia
April 29-May 2, 2012 IRA Convention Chicago, Illinois
May 10, 2012 Wynford Elementary Bucyrus, Ohio
March 22, 2013 OCTELA Conference Columbus, Ohio

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"The House" is a beautifully illustrated poem that tells the story of a house made of stone and wood in 1656 and pictures moments in its rich history up to the 1990's when its crumbling remains are replowed and reborn anew in 1999 to become another incarnation of home. The illustrations complement the sensitive quatrains of verse perfectly. Children will examine each two page painting in minute detail, delighting in the wonders displayed in the loving history of "The House." Children age 5 and up will enjoy this magnificent, sensitive book and so will their parents and teachers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Patricia L. Scharer on August 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The simple, two-word title and Innocenti's powerful cover art invite the reader to wonder about "the house"...what is this book about? Who are these people? How are they related to the house? A single page of text in the voice of the house as of 2009 (but built in 1656) foreshadows that the reader will learn much about the history of the house. The framed, small illustrations starting in 1900 on the left page focus on the lives of the people. Lewis's quatrains on the right share insights about the house that are then given new meaning on the following wordless two-page spread. Readers are immersed in the art, answering some questions and creating new ones as they study the house and the people in the illustrations. The pattern of poetry and art continue through the 20th century clearly demonstrating that a picture is worth a thousand words and masterfully written poems are worth the same. It's interesting that the poetry has a universal quality and could be illustrated in many, many ways but the marriage of the quatrains with Innocenti's art creates a true picturebook as the two combined offer a meaning greater than either alone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is definitely one of my favorite picture books of all time! It is the story of a house built in 1656, and the house itself 'narrates' its history in the first few centuries after it was constructed - it endured the plague, inclement weather, and finally (perhaps most tragically) faces desolation when it is abandoned. However, hope springs again with the passage of time as at the beginning of the 20th century, in the year 1900, the house once again feels "life" seeping back into its structure as humans begin the process of reconstruction.

There are many things to appreciate in this book of wonders (for truly it is a treasure that can be perused and browsed through again and again, yielding new insights each time) - there are the beautiful and poetic quatrains of poet J. Patrick Lewis that tell readers of the transformations taking place over the years, as well as of the events that occur in the house and its surroundings (weddings, war, etc.). All of these are beautifully conveyed through the lyrical quatrains.

Then there are the gorgeous double spreads of the house, beautifully illustrated and pictured with great detail by artist Roberto Innocenti. My five-year-old may not appreciate the deeper meanings within the quatrains, but she loved the illustrations. We spent almost an hour browsing through the pictures, and she found great pleasure in identifying the changes that occurs around the house and within it- as well as other subtle changes, e.g. the fact that the toadstools that are found in abundance slowly give way to other types of vegetation; the changes in people's manner of dressing over the years; even the family cat which changes from one to another!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wizard of Aus on January 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The attention to detail in this book is absolutely wonderful. You will find yourself flipping from year to year and back again to see the changes in every tiny aspect of the presented scene. Lewis' unobtrusive and sparse writing is the perfect complement to Innocenti's detail-intense illustrations. Lewis sets the tone of the subsequent illustration but still allows the artwork to tell the real story. If luxury is in the detail, then this book is very luxurious indeed. Had Innocenti been a resident of the United States, I believe this book would have been a strong contender for the Caldecott Medal.

This book is a must have for older children who like to closely examine things and for anyone who appreciates a well-drawn, visual yarn.
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