cover image Home in the Woods

Home in the Woods

Eliza Wheeler. Penguin/Paulsen, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-16290-9

Somber artwork by Wheeler (When You Are Brave) sets the tone for the opening of her Depression-era tale of a family forced to start over. Based on the memories of Wheeler’s grandmother, the story follows six-year-old Marvel, her seven siblings, and their mother as they strike out into the forest, lugging bedding trussed up with rope and pushing a wheelbarrow full of pots and pans. “Dad lives with the angels now,” Marvel begins, “and we need to find a new home.” The tiny, ramshackle dwelling they spy in the woods looks forbidding, but there’s a pump in the cellar and good soil for planting, all captured in delicate illustrations. Brighter hues start to creep into the spreads as the family settles in, discovers berries growing nearby, and harvests the garden (“Some treasures take a little time”). When the “marvelous things” at the general store prove too expensive, the children set up a play shop of their own, making sweets of mud and money of leaves. The family’s ability to make do helps them survive the winter and greet the spring. With the lure of an old-fashioned shipwreck narrative, Wheeler’s story champions initiative, self-reliance, and familial closeness. Ages 5–8. [em]Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Oct.) [/em]