From School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Leaving England in 1637 with his wife, two sons, and a dog, William intends to build a house just like his father's. Good intentions fall aside as the man discovers that the environment in the New World is different and requires new ways of thinking. When summer brings heat, he must dig a cellar to store food or it will rot. The dry autumn forces William to replace the thatch on his roof with shingles that won't catch on fire from chimney sparks. During winter's low temperatures, he finds that he needs a larger fireplace and must pitch the roof at a steeper angle so that it won't collapse under heavy snow. Lessons learned keep the family alive and healthy. Double-page spreads include detailed watercolor paintings on one side and readable text on the other. Each text page also includes a delightful, small pen-and-ink drawing of the boys (and dog) playing, building a lean-to, fishing, watching wild geese, and enjoying the snow. As the narrative tells of the building and rebuilding of the house, the illustrations relate another complementary story. Careful observation of the accurate paintings lends perspective and information on daily life and items from clothing and tools to furniture and children's play. This unusual picture book works on several levels, making it worthy for both recreational reading and as an introduction to the period.-Pamela K. Bomboy, Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Ages 5-8. Howard combines social history and a moral on adapting to change in this story of how one early settler's dream of re-creating the house he left behind in England is blasted to bits by the harsh realities of life in the colonies. It's 1637 and William and his family have just arrived in New England. They set about building a thatched-roof cottage like the one they left behind. They are pleased with their new home, but as the seasons change the house must change: the hot New England summer calls for a cellar; the drier climate means cedar shingles on the roof; the snowier, colder winter demands a bigger fireplace. The changes are explained in a way youngsters will easily understand: with each climate change, William's wife exclaims: "Something must be done," and the family solves the problem. Day's engaging watercolors show details of house building and of colonial family life, as clever, black-and-white insets on text pages follow the adventures of William's two sons. A book that is as engaging as it is informative. Connie Fletcher
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