FICTION

Too Tall Houses

illus. by author. 40p. Viking. Sept. 2012. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01314-2.
COPY ISBN
RedReviewStarK-Gr 2—Owl and Rabbit live side by side in two small huts. Rabbit tends to his vegetable garden and Owl perches on the roof, gazing at the forest. Trouble starts when Rabbit's plants grow too tall, blocking Owl's vista. Angry Owl makes his abode taller, Rabbit follows suit, and a construction race ensues. When the houses become impossibly sky-high, cartoonishly looming over continents, a formidable wind blows them down. With their dwellings in ruins, the former friends wisely decide that it is much better to join forces and build one small house, where they settle in harmony. Laid out in spreads, the illustrations feature impeccably detailed pencil drawings combined with sumptuously colored gouache backgrounds. The animals are full of heartfelt emotions, from anger and frustration to happy contentment. Marino interjects a few humorous details throughout the story-the expressions of grumpy Owl getting watered by Rabbit or flying with a squashed tomato on his head are priceless. This story about friendship and togetherness contains a great lesson without being didactic or moralizing and should be welcome in most collections.—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY
In this modern fable, Rabbit and Owl live peacefully in two small houses atop a hill. Then Rabbit's garden interferes with Owl's view, and their one-upmanship begins. Both build taller and taller houses until, at last, the outrageous structures come tumbling down. Detailed gouache and pencil illustrations capture the homey environs, fantastic houses, and the modest home the friends ultimately build--together.

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