The House at the End of the Road

Owlkids. Sept. 2019. 40p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781771473354.
K-Gr 2–One day while out exploring on their bikes, three cousins venture close to a rickety old house and encounter what they think is a ghost. The ghost, they later learn, is Mr. Peterson, their grandmother’s teacher and friend, and he isn’t nearly as scary as they first imagined. With their grandmother’s encouragement, the cousins build a wonderful friendship over the summer. Before the three return home in the fall, Mr. Peterson is moved to a nursing home, and his house is unceremoniously emptied of all his marvelous things. The children salvage a box full of photos, drawings, and seeds and clippings for their grandmother to take to Mr. Peterson and the story closes with all three planning to return next summer to visit. The kids are a curious and mischievous bunch and the pages are filled with golden summer light that gives each page a nostalgic feel. Many pages are divided into multiple panels, which allows them to capture each perfect scene and facial expression. Images of the interior of Mr. Peterson’s house are filled with delicate sketches of many eclectic items such as a full skeleton, a rotary phone, an old sewing machine. The text is written from the perspective of one of the cousins, with some added dialogue shared through speech bubbles, and this approach makes the story feel honest and true. Mr. Peterson, despite the cousins’ first impression, is generous with his time and able to recognize and nurture each of the cousin’s individual talents, and their gifts to him on their departure are proof that their time together was meaningful. The message that it is necessary to look past appearances is one that is sure to resonate with parents and caregivers.
VERDICT A sweet intergenerational story with gorgeous illustrations. The message that it is necessary to look past first appearances is one that is sure to resonate with parents and caregivers.

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