Reviews: The Clothesline by Orbie & The House at the End of the Road by Kari Rust

New kid’s books on the review docket! I have two lovely and wonderfully illustrated children’s titles here- from Canadian creators!- courtesy of OwlKids Books: Orbie’s The Clothesline and Kari Rust’s The House at the End of the Road. Happy reading!

Author and illustrator Orbie hails from Quebec, and you may be familiar with the children’s book creator from her numerous French language titles as well as from her fun English language picture book debut Sloth at the Zoom (written by Helaine Becker). In The Clothesline, a graphic novel for beginning readers, Orbie takes readers on a fantastically imagined and engineered story about a young boy who accidentally gets stuck on – you guessed it- a clothesline. Our protagonist and narrator, a five year old boy named Reggie, lives with his mother in an apartment above a corner store. Reggie loves living so close to the corner store because when he receives an allowance from his mom (from helping with clean up around the house), he doesn’t have far to travel to buy delicious treats! Something you should know, though, is that not only does Reggie love to race down the stairs from his apartment to the ground floor, but also that he loves to yank at the clothesline pull- it makes a most excellent noise- as he zooms down the stairs. It’s a satisfying regular exercise in zipping and being fast and noise-making…until one day when things go horribly awry. Perhaps due to a zoom-ier than usual speed, as Reggie makes a go for the clothesline, he loses footing and ZIP-WHOOSH, Reggie is hanging on for dear life, clinging on to the clothesline knot with an aching hand, smack in the centre of the rope’s length! What, oh what, is Reggie to do?! Visually dynamic and engaging, featuring a young child’s narration-in-crisis that is utterly witty, laugh out loud and sympathetic, The Clothesline is a pure delight start to finish. Readers who have adored Shinsuke Yoshitake’s hysterical Still Stuck, or titles from authors such as Andrea Tsurumi, Marianne Dubuc or Ashley Spires might especially delight in the charm, zaniness and humour of The Clothesline.

 

Author and illustrator Kari Rust, who debuted on the picture book scene with the clever and surprising Tricky, returns with the touching The House at the End of the Road. Rust’s sophomore title is an intriguing mix of real world actuality and gentle nostalgia. A picture book with graphic novel components, The House at the End of the Road tells the story of three young cousins whose detour to a seemingly abandoned and possibly haunted house changes the course of a summer. While staying with their grandmother for another summer vacation, a sister and brother as well as a cousin named Robert go exploring around the town on broken-down bicycles. As the three cousins come across what appears to be a spooky and uninhabited house, Robert ends up tapping a rock to window and a wizened face suddenly appears at the window! The three kids scramble away and accidentally leave one of their bicycles on the property. While the cousins believe the face to belong to a ghost, their understanding grandma assures them that the Old Peterson House is, in fact, occupied by an elderly man named Mr. Peterson. When the cousin’s grandma introduces them to Mr. Peterson, the kids discover an incredible world of stories, antiques, photos of the past…and a new friend. A sudden turn leaves the kids floundering, but the cousins, along with their grandma, find a way to make the best of things. Unexpectedly light on text, Rust’s gorgeous artwork adds poignancy to the story. The characters are deeply expressive, the panels and spreads are rich with precise detail, saturated colours and shadows. Blink and you may miss the siblings holding hands in one scene for comfort and strength, or examples of Robert’s responsive heart and his deep attachment to Mr. Petersen. A warmhearted, tender, and nuanced story that offers even more depth upon reflection and rereading, The House at the End of the Road would be perfect for readers who enjoy thoughtful picture book titles such as A House That Once Was, House Held Up by Trees, or The Visitor.

I received copies of these titles courtesy of OwlKids Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. The Clothesline is set for publication October 15, 2019 from OwlKids Books.

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