cover image The Blue House

The Blue House

Phoebe Wahl. Knopf, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-984893-36-9

“Leo lived with his dad in an old blue house next to a tall fir tree” in a neighborhood that’s being redeveloped. One day Leo’s father comes to fetch him at school; they get ice cream and visit the beach. “I got a letter from the landlord today,” Leo’s dad says. “They’ve sold our house, and it’s going to be torn down.” When Leo gets home, he’s so angry he shuts himself in his room. But he gets hungry eventually, and, after dinner, his dad plays electric guitar, and Leo jumps on the couch: “They danced and stomped and raged, together.” Leo has long brown hair and rosy cheeks, and his father wears a beard and a solemn expression. Wahl (Paper Mice) makes both characters distinctive and sympathetic, and devotes loving attention to every spread. Toys on the floor, berries in the garden, the pattern of the couch fabric—she conjures up all the coziness that Leo and his father don’t want to let go. In their new place, though, Leo sees that it’s their presence that makes things cozy. Wahl portrays a father who’s supportive and honest (“I’m angry, too,” he says), and who helps his son ride a wave of emotions and land safely on the other side. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Aug.) [/em]