cover image Too Tall Houses

Too Tall Houses

Gianna Marino. Viking, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-670-01314-2

Marino's (Meet Me at the Moon) gouache and pencil spreads feature sun-baked %E2%80%A8color, lots of movement, and wide Southwestern vistas; they provide most of the story's kick. Rabbit's flat-topped brick house looks like a small pueblo, while his neighbor Owl's dwelling is an intricately woven covered nest. The two animals have been friends for ages, but now there's a conflict: "Rabbit!" cries Owl. "Your garden is growing too tall. %E2%80%A8I can't see the forest!" Owl adds another story to his dwelling while "Rabbit watched and chittered his teeth." Rabbit retaliates, building still higher, and they're off, each outdoing the other until a spread shows two impossibly tall structures teetering far above Earth's surface, the rabbit and owl barely hanging on at the very top. Wind blows the houses from side to side, and vegetables and twigs go flying; fortunately, although the animals are falling from miles up, both land safely%E2%80%94and, of course, discover that cooperation is better than competition. It's a story with universal appeal and a very particular sense of place. Ages 3%E2%80%935. Agent: Deborah Warren, East West Literary Agency. (Sept.)