cover image Soft House

Soft House

Jane Yolen, , illus. by Wendy Anderson Halperin. . Candlewick, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1697-7

Gentle rhythms give Yolen's rainy-day tale the feel of a narrative poem. "It's raining," begins Alison Isabelle. "I watch the drops slide down the window,/ leaving trails for my fingers to follow." Stuck inside, big sister and little brother struggle with boredom. They don't want to play checkers, pretend school or read; instead, they bicker—until Davey says, "I know.... Let's play Soft House." Alison Isabelle, who created the game, agrees. They rearrange furniture and cushions, and spread blankets on top, thus creating a cozy fort. In what has become her signature composition, Halperin (Sophie and Rose ) arranges inset boxes that chronicle steps to constructing the house or events within it (reading, flashlight games, blocks and checkers). Frames border full-bleed images that incorporate a multitude of patterns on quilts, rugs and clothing. The story provides an authentic portrayal of sibling dynamics ranging from pressure to gain one's way to thoughtful and caring once the two make peace, and ultimately offers a visual and lyrical ode to the value of creative, collaborative play. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)