By Maureen Tai, 16 December 2018
“Home is a house in the country.”
The word “home” means the same thing for everyone – a place where one lives, more or less permanently – but how it looks is different for different people. Through her detailed, imaginative and beautiful watercolour pictures, Carson Ellis offers a visual exploration of the myriad homes that exist in the world (and beyond) whilst playfully inviting the reader to think about the inhabitants, who they are and how they might live.
Homes are different spaces in different places. Some are grand and large, like a sprawling palace with domed minarets in (possibly) India. Others are small and pokey, like a flat surrounded by grim smokestacks and graffitied brick buildings in an unidentified city. Some homes float, and some are powered by engines and constantly on the move (there is a nod to the illustrator’s husband who is a member of a band as well as a children’s author). Some homes are made of leather and animal skins, and some are made of bricks and rocks. Some homes are the product of great labour, such as the Norse god’s elaborate, many-roomed castle or the sombre school/church/museum/asylum-like building encased in a gigantic glass dome. Some homes are holes in tree stumps, whereas others are suspended from high tree branches. Some are above ground, and some are underwater. Some are even in outer space.
Regardless of location, or build, or inhabitant, these are all places of shelter. These are all homes, and that common thread is hinted at throughout the pictures by a recurring motif, a single grey dove that appears to move from one home to the next as we turn the pages. Look closely and you’ll see it, sleeping in the fronds of the palm tree, flying away from the outstretched arms of a mischievous child or stealing a treat from a babushka’s bowl. Home is a lovely, multi-layered picture book that will make you think about the homes of others, and very possibly leave you with a new-found appreciation of the unique and wonderful place that you live in.
For ages 5 and up.