Thursday, November 8, 2012

Too Tall Houses by Gianna Marino

Too Tall Houses is the story of how the good friendship between Rabbit and Owl is almost completely ruined when it turns into a ridiculous competition.  Rabbit and Owl have always lived in harmony: Rabbit liked to garden, Owl liked to look at his lovely view.  But when Rabbit's garden grows and grows so that it blocks Owl's view of the forest, instead of talking to Rabbit about it, Owl simply builds a higher  house.

And when Owl's new higher house blocks the sun that Rabbit's garden needs to grow, instead of talking to Owl and trying to work a compromise out, Rabbits builds his house higher.  And so the two former friends continue to out build each others houses, until, having built the tallest houses in the world, both Rabbit and Owl realize they no longer have the things they want and love: Rabbit can no longer carry water to his garden and Owl can no longer see the forest.

In fact, they are now so high up, all they have is wind blowing their house around until one day a strong enough gust comes along and not only knocks the houses down, but knocks some sense back into Rabbit and Owl.  Reconciled, the two friends decide to build one house together because they realized that "Alone they had nothing...but together they had everything they needed."

I have to be honest and say that animals acting like people aren't ususally my favorite kinds of stories, but when it comes to fables, they seem to be just the ticket for getting a message across in a very gentle, indirect, not preachy way.  And Too Tall Houses has an important message about friendship, competition and cooperation.  As their houses grow higher and higher, Rabbit and Owl grow further and further apart, physcially and emotionally.

I think Too Tall Houses is such a well done picture book.  It was written and illustrated by Gianna Marino, whose Meet Me at the Moon has always been a favorite of mine.  For illustrating Too Tall Houses, Marino has used a full bleed pencil and gouache method.  The colors are rich earthy tones and each illustration has a nice textured feel to it, giving the reader a real sense of nature.  As you read, be sure to look at the expressive eye of Rabbit and Owl on each page and how they change over the course of the story.  I also like the whimsical detailing in each illustration.  I always think illustrations are such a good way to get kids studying and talking about the story being read, making it interactive.

This book is recommended for readers age 3-6
This book was obtained from the publisher


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