March 19, 2021

Your House, My House

Written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc
Kids Can Press
978-1-55253-0490-3
24 pp.
Ages 3-7
October, 2020
 
Now, when our homes are more important than ever, being our places of safety and comfort, sometimes our schools and our workplaces, our gyms and our doctors' offices, Your House, My House from the incomparable Marianne Dubuc reminds us how much our homes really mean to us.
 
This is 3 Maple Street and there is so much life here. The text may be focusing on Little Rabbit whose birthday it is but it's what's going on in and around the apartment of four floors that makes for a bigger celebration of life. So while Little Rabbit prepares invitations and bakes his cake with Mama Rabbit and little sister Lily, multiple stories evolve in and around the homes at 3 Maple Street.
From Your House, My House by Marianne Dubuc

There's a phone call from Mr. Fox asking if Mama Rabbit can watch Little Fox but it's Marianne Dubuc's intricate illustration, with an empty nursery and a very pregnant Mrs. Fox, that hints at what is really going on with that family. Then there's the Cat family moving in and everyone–Rabbits, Mice, Hedgehogs–helping. There's Mr. Bear who is sick in bed, but who pops downstairs to drop off his gift, while Mr. Owl returns from his nightly ventures and heads to bed. And there's a trio of mice up to no good while their parents help their neighbours. (Did I mention a golden-haired little girl making herself at home at the Foxes while a wolf searches for a red-caped little one, and three little pigs come visiting too? Seems there's a fairy tale or three making themselves at home in the neighbourhood as well.)

From Your House, My House by Marianne Dubuc
I was especially looking forward to what was happening with the Hedgehogs as Little Hedgehog crosses off dates on a calendar labelled "Papa," anticipating the return of his father. And there's even a little drama in the tree above the moving van as parents seek worms and a little one leaves the nest for the first time.
From Your House, My House by Marianne Dubuc
Ah, but there's so much happening at 3 Maple Street and most of the fun of Your House, My House is looking into each apartment and on the street and on the stairs and in the trees to see everything. (It's like looking into the homes of Zoom meeting participants.) The details on characters' faces and in the apartment decors tell more of the story and become a treasure hunt for young readers (and perhaps a lesson in visual literacy for their teachers). From the little bird covering its ears from squawking parents, the ear plugs used by the sleeping owl, or the little attic ghost that grabs the postal worker's hat, there is so much to see and about which to smile. Marianne Dubuc's words tell a story of community, most coming together for a party, but each with their own lives of joys and troubles, normalcy and the unusual. But it's always her illustrations that will charm. Every double-page spread (which I could sadly not reproduce from the large book of 28 x 35 cm size) is essentially the same in scope, encompassing the four-storied building with trees on either side and a portion of street in front. But, and it's a big but, every spread is different in detail of action, content, expression and story. It reminds us that there may be one story upon which we all focus but there are many more that may never be seen. Thankfully Marianne Dubuc has invited us in to this city of homes, where your home is my home, and shared with us glimpses of lives and the abodes of foxes, cats, mice, rabbits, hedgehogs, birds, a bear, an owl, and a ghost and those who might venture into their community intermittently.
From Your House, My House by Marianne Dubuc
On this one day, there are at least a dozen stories playing out, and Little Rabbit's is but one of them, but together they make a world of complexity and community.

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