cover image Homer and the House Next Door

Homer and the House Next Door

Robin Pulver. Four Winds, $14.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-02-775457-5

A hound named Homer gets a double whammy when, shortly after his next-door neighbor Ms. Gallivant puts her house up for sale, Homer's master Hank hangs a similar ``for sale'' sign in their own front yard. Although Hank has a surprise in store (he and Ms. Gallivant eventually purchase each other's houses), Homer reacts angrily to news of the change and terrorizes the would-be homebuyers who look at the property. Pulver (the Mrs. Toggle books) posits Hank as the authoritative ``parent,'' communicating a child's uncertainty and frustration through her portrayal of Homer. The loose style of Levin's pen-and-ink sketches, enhanced here with daubs of watercolor, seems better suited to the artist's New Yorker cartoons, where punch lines and one-shot drawings matter more than repeated, consistent characters. (Levin's finest creations turn out to be Victorian houses with elaborate, multicolor exteriors.) Though most real-life uprootings don't result in an instant happy ending like that described here, the bulk of the story conveys true emotions. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)