The Big House and the Little House

Levine Querido. Mar. 2021. 48p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781646140497.
PreS–In a big house and a little house situated on opposite ends of a long road live a big bear and a little mouse. Each lives and works alone, never crossing paths because Little Mouse always walks to town and Big Bear always walks to the forest. Deciding to walk opposite ways one Sunday, the two pass each other “but both looked straight ahead and they didn’t even notice each other!” Seeing other animals socializing in forest and town, Little Mouse and Big Bear separately feel lonely. On the way home, the two bump into each other and an invitation to tea by the bear results in a budding friendship and plans for a future meeting. When a terrible storm threatens to wash away Little Mouse’s house, Big Bear comes to the rescue by saving the mouse and her small house, subsequently situated next to his own. “And neither was lonely any more.” The illustrations feature muted colors and black line shading reminiscent of David McPhail’s work. The round lines of the characters and the landscape create a very cozy environment. But short symmetrical sentences make the text feel almost perfunctory, and abrupt transitions do nothing to elevate a predictable story line.
VERDICT What are the lessons? Big animals save small ones? Men save women? This is a sweet story, but collections may already have explored bear-mouse friendships with Karma Wilson and Bonny Becker’s books.

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