Every night at bedtime, Sprout's allowed to pick out his own reading material. We usually get through 3-4 books while he's taking his bath, and then we do one more once he's all snuggled down in bed. I used to do the selections, trying to reserve a calmer title for that last one of the night, but lately he's all about doing it himself. And for the past several nights, Sprout has chosen only one book for that last selection: A House in the Woods by Inga Moore.
If you're not familiar with Inga Moore, you're in for a treat. She's probably best known for Six-Dinner Sid, about a greedy little black cat whose elaborate plot to get multiple dinners every night eventually trips him up (or does it?). She's also published a number of acclaimed illustrated volumes, most notably her iteration of Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame -- cannot wait until Sprout's old enough for this one!
And in A House in the Woods Inga Moore gives us a book that is as charming and cozy as Wind in the Willows, albeit in a different vein. The plot is fairly simple: a couple of pigs have built themselves perfectly lovely homes in the woods, but when each pig gets an unexpected houseguest, their homes are ruined. Suddenly the two pigs, and Moose and Bear, find themselves without living quarters. What's the most logical solution? Build themselves a proper house, of course. So the unlikely group hires themselves a pack of beaver builders to do the job. Luckily for them, beavers work cheap. Soon enough the little group has a sturdy and suitable home, complete with all the comforts -- all of that for only the price of several plates of peanut butter sandwiches (told you those beavers were a bargain!).
It's just about impossible for me to convey in writing how delightfully lovely this book is. Really, it's the kind of book you read as a child and remember fondly as an adult. The characters all get along splendidly, working together to accomplish their goal. The reward for their hard work is satisfyingly handsome, and best of all they all get to curl up together at the end of the night and dream about their labors. And the illustrations -- oh my, how gorgeous they are! I'm not exaggerating when I say that each time we read it, one of us notices something new: from the crooked stick that one pig finds at the beginning, to the lovely squishy pillows the group brings home from the badger junkyard. Oh, and the friends themselves are pitch-perfect: gangly Moose, all knees and elbows, the busy little pigs, and bumbly Bear.
Sprout thinks a visit to the house in the woods is the perfect way to end the night, and I heartily agree. You'll want to pull yourself and your kiddo right inside this cozy picture book and never leave.
A House in the Woods by Inga Moore, published by Candlewick
Sample: "Which left the two Little Pigs with nowhere to live--not to mention Moose and Bear. This was a pickle. It really was."