cover image House by the River

House by the River

William Miller. Lee & Low Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-880000-48-9

""Belinda didn't like her house by the river"": the African American girl dislikes crawling underneath the porch where the chickens like to lay eggs, and she is apprehensive of the river, which periodically threatens to leap the flood wall--she would prefer to live in town. Then, during the biggest storm in a decade, her mother tells her how the house holds her family history, from the good omen her parents saw on their first night in the house to the time of her birth, when her now-deceased father ""thanked the moon and stars for his daughter"" as he pressed her hand against the window. After the storm, Belinda finds one smooth egg intact, a token of fragility ""stronger than a storm"" that rounds out Miller's tale without tying it up too neatly. Van Wright and Hu, previously teamed with Miller for Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree, match the telling dialogue and intimate details of his text with watercolors that combine volatile, atmospheric landscapes and evocatively shadowy interiors with emotionally sophisticated portraits. Together, author and illustrators allow subtle sensibilities a wide space rarely conceded in everyday life. Ages 4-up. (May)